Special to the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON – Walkoff wins in Saturday’s second game and the first game Sunday highlighted the final weekend of the regular season for the Ashford baseball team.
The Saints earned splits with Iowa Wesleyan at Ashford University Field, dropping the first game Saturday 5-1 and then winning the second game 6-5 in nine innings before winning Sunday’s opener 3-2 and losing the finale 10-3.
Senior Damil Reyes belted a single to right-center field in the seventh inning of Sunday’s opener, scoring designated hitter Ryan Fraley with the winning run.
The Saints and Tigers combined for just seven hits, and neither team scored until the fifth inning. Ashford scored a pair of runs when catcher Tomas Chardon singled down the left-field line to score Reyes and Fraley.
Iowa Wesleyan scored twice on a two-out single in the top of the seventh, but Fraley doubled in the bottom half, and one out later, Reyes hit the game-winner.
Junior reliever Eric Musselman, who allowed the tying hit, earned the win. Junior McKinley Portice allowed just two hits and struck out five while earning the no-decision.
Unfortunately for the Saints (23-16), the excitement of Game 1 was short-lived. Iowa Wesleyan jumped all over AU pitching in Game 2 by scoring a run in the first and three more in the second before extending its lead with three runs in the fifth and three more in the seventh.
Ashford scored a pair in the fourth and one more in the fifth as Fraley, R.J. Roberts and Lucas Pattison registered RBIs. Roberts was 3-for-3 at the plate during Game 2.
The Saints celebrated Senior Day on Saturday, though there was little to cheer about in the first game.
The Tigers hung a four-spot in their first crack at the bats before Ashford answered with a run in the bottom half of the first. Following a leadoff single, sophomore shortstop Roberts scored on a wild pitch to mark AU’s lone run. Iowa Wesleyan scored the game’s final run in the top of the second.
Roberts drove in the big run in the second game. His one-out sacrifice fly in the ninth inning scored Pattison with the winning run.
Iowa Wesleyan once again jumped in front to start Game 2 and plated a run in the first to grab a 1-0 advantage.
But the Saints weren’t about the send the seniors out on such a foul note. AU drove around five runs in the bottom half of the third inning to take control.
Pattison belted a bases-loaded single through the left side, scoring pinch-runner Danny Walczak and Petey Mroz for the first two runs. Then, a few batters later, Roberts singled through the left side to bring around freshman Patrick Pinlac before another single through the left side, this time by Reyes, scored Pattison and Kyler Kopach to end the extended run.
The Tigers battled back to score three runs and chase AU senior starter Ty Funk in the fifth. Two wild pitches and a bases-loaded hit batsman surrendered the trio of runs to pull IWC within 5-4.
AU left the bases loaded in the fifth, and the Tigers tied the contest with a run in the seventh.
In between games, Ashford celebrated the careers of eight seniors playing their final four-game set at Ashford University Field. Reyes, Funke, Kopach, Bumphrey, Michael Bruns, Tanner McLaughlin, Zach Smerz and Tommy Caravia all received recognition in between the pair of contests.
Ashford now prepares for the Association of Independent Institutions Baseball Tournament in Victoria, Texas. The five-team, double-elimination event begins Wednesday, with the championship set for Friday.