The SVSU baseball team lost its weekend series against the Ashland Eagles.
The series began Friday with a game that ultimately had to be completed on Sunday due to inclement weather. The two teams played twice on Saturday before concluding Friday’s game on Sunday and playing a fourth game that ended after The Valley Vanguard’s time of publication.
In Friday’s game, Ashland scored two early runs, but SVSU answered with six straight prior to the contest being halted.
In the bottom of the third, with the Cardinals leading 6-2, the game was suspended as inclement weather moved into the area.
When the game resumed on Sunday, Ashland scored four runs in the seventh and four runs in the eighth to complete an impressive comeback win.
Friday’s starter Amani Godfrey returned to the mound on Sunday, but ran into trouble late, allowing 12 hits and eight runs in total. However, only four of those runs were earned as the Cardinal defense committed five errors in the game. After Godfrey was pulled with one out in the eighth, reliever Caleb Somerville ultimately took the loss for SVSU.
The teams returned to the diamond on Saturday for a doubleheader.
In the first game, the Eagles jumped out to a 6-0 lead on starting pitcher Alex Millhisler, scoring three in the first inning and another three in the fourth. The SVSU offense was quiet through the first four frames but nearly completed a comeback late in the contest.
“Their pitcher was tough,” head coach Chris Ebright said. “He was throwing three pitches for strikes. You have to tip your hat and just compete and try and get to their bullpen.”
In the top of the fifth, Todd Paperd grounded out to score Quincy Jones, and Gerrit Eding reached on a throwing error to score Craig Wilson, making it 6-2. In the sixth, Jordan Swiss brought in two more runs on an RBI hit, and Wilson later reached on a fielder’s choice to score Swiss, bringing SVSU within one.
In the top of the seventh, the Cardinals got the baserunner they needed as Paperd earned a leadoff walk. However, Eding struck out, and Derrek Clyde grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat and the game with Ashland surviving 6-5.
Jones had two hits for SVSU, while Clyde, Fitzgibbon, Swiss, Wilson and Collin Winters all added one apiece.
Saturday’s second game was another nailbiter, going to extra innings and ending in another one-run win for the Eagles, 5-4.
The Cardinal offense was steady early but faded late, as SVSU was held scoreless in the final four innings of the game.
Mason Schwellenbach got the start on the mound for SVSU and ended the day with a no-decision, throwing five innings, allowing four runs and striking out five.
“He competed,” Ebright said. “He kept the team in the game; we just couldn’t push across another run for him.”
SVSU got the offense started in the top half of the first when Jones singled to left, scoring Fitzgibbon to make it 1-0 Cards.
Ashland answered in the bottom half of the frame with two runs of their own before a Clyde solo home run in the third brought the game back to even at 2-2. The teams continued to trade runs as Ashland added two more in the fourth before Winters’ two-run home run in the top of the fifth tied the game at four.
From there, the teams went scoreless until the bottom of the ninth inning. Reliever Grant Jebbia threw a pair of scoreless innings out of the Cardinal bullpen, but Eric Fritz ended up taking the loss for the Cardinals on the mound when a wild pitch with one out in the bottom of the ninth scored Ashland’s Austin Eifrid to send the Eagles home with a walk off win.
Winters finished with a huge game to pace the SVSU offense, going 3-5 with a home run and two RBIs. Clyde, Fitzgibbon, Jones, Wilson and Paperd all added hits for the Cardinals.
“Good teams find ways to win one-run ball games,” Ebright said. “We weren’t good enough to do that (Saturday).”