For Immediate Release
Baseball -- March 20, 2011
Ashford Spoils Baseball Home Opener With Sweep
EUREKA, Ill. – Ashford used a big offensive inning in each game of Sunday’s non-conference doubleheader against the Eureka College baseball team, earning a sweep in the Red Devils’ 2011 home opener at Henry Sand Field. The NAIA-affiliated Saints won the opener, 12-5, before claiming the nightcap, 11-7.
The Saints used a pair of two-run innings in the early stages of the first game to open up a four-run lead. Ashford shortstop Mikole Pierce deposited the third pitch of the game from Eureka sophomore starter John Berns (Herscher, Ill./Herscher H.S.) over the left-center field wall to give the Saints a 1-0 advantage. Jake Peters and Brandon VanBlaricome each coaxed bases-loaded walks before an RBI infield single by Jordan Nuss made it 4-0 after three innings.
Eureka came back with a flurry, pushing four runs across in the bottom of the fourth inning to force a 4-4 tie. Freshman left fielder Stephen Davis (Mackinaw, Ill./Dee-Mack H.S.) got the Red Devils on the board, drawing a bases-loaded walk. Freshman shortstop Grant DeWitt (Mt. Sterling, Ill./Brown County H.S.) lifted a sacrifice fly to further close the gap before senior second baseman Aaron Tolson (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian H.S.) knotted the score at 4-4 with his two-run single to right field.
The Saints put the game away in the next half-inning, scoring six times for a 10-4 lead. The big blow of the inning came in the form of Pierce’s second home run of the game, a grand slam to right-center for an 8-4 advantage. The Saints later took advantage of a pair of Eureka defensive woes to score two more times in the inning.
Tolson went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBI to pace the Eureka offense in the opener. Pierce finished with a game-high five RBI and shared game-high honors with Nuss with three base hits.
The Red Devils plated three runs in the first inning for an early lead in game two. Senior catcher Alex Hess (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./Illinois Central) clobbered an RBI double to center field and later scored on a wild pitch. Junior third baseman Blake McConkey (Fairview, Ill./Spoon River Valley H.S.) closed the scoring in the inning with his second career home run, a solo shot over the left field wall. Ashford answered in the top half of the second inning, getting its second grand slam of the afternoon on Alberto Tomas Chardon’s bases-loaded blast to left field for a 4-3 lead.
The hosts regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning, getting three unearned runs after Ashford second baseman Joe Dashek misplayed what should have been an inning-ending groundout. DeWitt scored on the error and senior first baseman Tim Cashdollar (Morton, Ill./Morton H.S.) singled home a pair of runs in Eureka’s next at-bat and the Red Devils led, 6-4.
Eureka was able to hold the lead until Ashford used a four-run sixth inning to take the final lead of the afternoon. Chardon’s RBI single tied the game at 6-6 and Nuss followed with a run-scoring single to put the Saints in front for good, 7-6. After the lead swelled to 11-6, McConkey doubled to start the seventh inning and later scored on a wild pitch, but Ashford reliever Eric Nunez coaxed a double play to end the game and help the Saints sweep the non-conference doubleheader.
McConkey and Hess had two hits apiece to lead the Red Devils in game two, but Hess was forced to leave the game with an arm laceration after sliding in the second inning. Chardon led the Ashford offense with five RBI in a 3-for-4 showing.
The Red Devils will visit non-conference foe Lincoln Christian this Tuesday for a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. in Lincoln, Ill. Eureka will return to Henry Sand Field on Friday to open a three-game series and the 24-game St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference against Greenville at 3 p.m.
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