Eagles get 2016 campaign underway

Noah Cloonan

Fresh off of a second place finish in the Midwest Regional, the Ashland Eagles traveled to Indiana where they went 1-2 to start off the 2016 season.

Opening weekend featured three games against some very solid opponents headlined by a night game against Southern Indiana (3-2).

Returning star, Brandyn Sittinger, took the rubber in the first game for the Eagles as they took on Missouri-St. Louis. He went 4.2 innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits while striking out ten. The Eagles struggled to get going offensively in the first game of the season as they collected only six hits and left nine men on base.

Missouri-St. Louis jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before the Eagles tied the game in the top of the sixth at three. The bottom of the sixth, however, did not play in the Eagles favor as the Tritons scored four runs to take a 7-3 lead.

Ryan Lowe responded with a double for the Eagles scoring Mike Lewandowski to bring the Eagles within three. In the bottom of the seventh the Tritons added four more runs to extend the lead to 11-4 and that would stand as the final.

“Opening game we didn’t play real well,” said head coach John Schaly, “We had some normal first game issues.”

Saturday’s nightcap was the highlighted game of the weekend for the Eagles and they showed up to play. The Eagles faced off against Southern Indiana, who has won the National Championship two times in the past six seasons, and who was already 3-1 on the season. 

Ashland’s ace, Jake Baldwin (1-0), got the start against the Screaming Eagles and pitched five shutout innings surrendering only two hits and striking out eight. This gave the Eagle offense plenty of time to get rolling as they unloaded five runs in the second inning capped off by a RBI triple by Mackenzie Hampshire.

The Eagles added four more runs in the fifth and two more runs in the seventh to increase their lead to 11-0. Southern Indiana scored five in the bottom of the eighth and added another run in the ninth to make the final score 11-6 in favor of the Ashland Eagles.

“We played well in all phases,” said Schaly, “We had one error, but we got good pitching, played good defense and it was a good ballgame for us.”

Gred Ludwig and Lance Myers each collected three hits, including a double, for the Eagles and combined for 3 RBI. Luke Smith came on in the ninth to nail down the Eagles first win of the season.

After splitting on opening day the Eagles faced off against St. Joseph’s (2-3) on Sunday. The Puma’s got a fantastic start from Quinn Snarskis who pitched a complete game and gave up zero earned runs.

It was a sloppy game as each team committed threes errors. The Puma’s got 2 runs in the first to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The Eagles responded with an Adam Vasil sac fly to bring in their first run of the game.

The middle innings were quite until St Joseph’s added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. The Eagles scored a run in the top of the ninth and had the tying run on second base, but Snarskis got Adam Vasil swinging to end the game.

Greg Ludwig collected two more hits for the Eagles; he went 5-9 with two RBIs on the weekend. 

Coach Schaly was happy with his team’s performance on opening weekend but realizes they have a lot that they can improve upon.

 “[We have to] get better every day,” said Schaly, “whether it’s a practice day or a game day, we just gotta keep improving.”

Up next for the Eagles is Lewis University on Friday March 4 in Auburndale, Florida where the Eagles will play ten games in eight days.