The Ashland University baseball team bounced back from a loss on Friday to earn a doubleheader sweep at host Northwood on Saturday (April 27) afternoon in Midland, Mich. The Eagles won, 8-4, in Game 1 and toppled the Timberwolves, 12-9, in Game 2.
The Eagles (34-8, 14-5 GLIAC), ranked No. 21 in the nation and No. 2 in the NCAA Division II Midwest Region rankings, now lead Wayne State in the GLIAC standings by 1.5 games (three full games in the loss column).
Senior Matt Littrell tacked on a run-scoring infield single in the second to give the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
Senior right-hander Devin Peters retired the Timberwolves (28-16, 13-10 GLIAC) in order in the first, but the hosts rallied for three in the bottom of the second to cut it to 4-3.
Ashland added two runs in the fourth on Littrell's sac fly and a successful double steal by Mittermaier and sophomore Austin Eifrid.
The Eagles added two more in the fifth with the help of two errors before Peters left the bases loaded in the bottom half to keep it 8-3.
Northwood scored another in the sixth and had the bases loaded with no outs when AU head coach John Schaly turned to closer Chris Slavik. The senior induced a pop out, then a double play to end the threat with the tying run at the plate.
Slavik retired the side in order in the seventh to end the game and earn the save. Peters (7-0) stayed undefeated, going five innings and giving up four runs on nine hits with four walks and four strikeouts.
Eifrid and sophomore Dillan Smith had two hits apiece to lead the offense.
In Game 2, Littrell started the proceedings with a two-run homer to right-center in the top of the first inning. The Timberwolves, as they have done throughout the series, responded quickly with two runs of their own to tie the game.
Ashland starter Chance Hitchcock did not allow a hit in the next four innings as the Eagles turned the tie game into a 12-2 lead through six innings.
Junior Michael Rogers hit a two-run homer in the fourth to move into a tie with Northwood's David Vinsky for the GLIAC lead with 10. Junior Garret Robberts added an RBI single in the inning.
Ashland scored five in the fifth inning as Rogers drove in a pair with a double and Smith and Robberts added run-scoring hits.
Hitchcock finally gave up another hit – a single to Trevor Polewka in the sixth – but he ended his outing by getting Ryan Chargo to ground into a double play.
Mittermaier's two-run single in the seventh gave the Eagles a 12-2 lead that looked secure enough, but things got dicey in the bottom half. The Timberwolves scored seven runs in the bottom half of the inning – all unearned – and forced Schaly to go to Slavik again.
The right-hander came on with a 12-9 lead, two outs and one on base, but struck out Jacob Rybicki on three pitches to end the game and earn his second save of the day and sixth of the season.
Hitchcock (6-1) earned the win, allowing two runs on four hits in six innings of work. He struck out six and walked four. Six Eagles had multiple hits, led by Robberts' three, as they out-hit the Timberwolves, 15-7.
The Eagles and Timberwolves will wrap up their four-game series on Sunday (April 28) at noon in Midland, Mich.