TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. – The Ashland University baseball team got a strong start from junior Chance Hitchcock, but two late runs helped Northwood eclipse the Eagles, 4-3, on Friday (May 10) at Wuerfel Park in the GLIAC Tournament.
The Eagles (38-11) will now have to climb their way through the rest of the tournament undefeated to claim their second conference tournament championship. AU will again at 10:30 a.m. Saturday (May 11) against the loser of Friday night's Wayne State-Davenport game. Should the Eagles advance, they will play again at 6 p.m.
Hitchcock pitched around a two-out single in the first before the Eagles took a 1-0 lead on a sac fly by sophomore Micah Allen.
Hitchcock walked the leadoff man in the second, but then got a double play and a strikeout to end that inning. He retired the side in order in the third, but the Timberwolves (33-18) tied the game on Kyle Ziegler's two-out RBI single.
The Eagles answered in the bottom half as junior Michael Rogers laced a one-out double and sophomore Dillan Smith drew a walk. A groundout moved both into scoring position when Northwood starter Jake Gross balked to bring in Rogers. The Eagles loaded the bases with two more walks, but Gross escaped the jam by getting a groundout.
Hitchcock threw a 1-2-3 fifth inning, but the Timberwolves tied the game again in the sixth with an unearned run on a sac fly by Colin McClelland.
Ashland again regained the lead in the sixth as Smith doubled, went to third on a fly out and scored on a wild pitch.
Hitchcock escaped the seventh unharmed, but an unearned run for Northwood in the eighth tied the game at 3. In the ninth, Khale Showers delivered an RBI single in the top of the ninth off Hitchcock to give the 'Wolves the lead.
Ashland turned to junior southpaw Josh Smith, who stranded runners at second and third to end the inning.
The Eagles were set down in order in the ninth to end the game.
Northwood reliever Lennon Gwizdala (3-2) earned the relief win, going four hitless innings while striking out three.
Hitchcock (7-2) suffered the tough-luck loss, going 8 1/3 innings and giving up four runs (two earned) on seven hits. He walked three and struck out 10.
The Eagles were out-hit, 7-3, by the Timberwolves.