Baldwin's eight strong frames, Kaido's late sac fly leads Ashland past Drury
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Thanks to excellent pitching and a run in the top of the ninth inning, top-seeded Ashland kept its season alive with a 3-2 victory against second-seeded Drury at the 2013 Midwest Region Baseball Championship.
With the score tied at two in the ninth inning, shortstop Austin Walts singled up the middle. Pinch-hitter Stephen James bounced a single over the head of first baseman Colton Jones to move Walts to third base. Third baseman Wade Kaido produced a sacrifice fly to right field to score Walts.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Panthers (39-17) got the bases loaded with two outs against reliever Zach Botjer. With the count 2-2, Botjer struck out shortstop Caleb Cole to earn his eighth save of the season.
Ashland sophomore right-hander Jake Baldwin started against and Trevor Richards for the Panthers.
The Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Kaido singled to left field and came around to score on designated hitter Mackenzie Hampshire's double to left-center field.
Drury had a runner thrown out at home plate in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Gray mishandled a ground ball to first. Left fielder Nick Thimsech, who had walked and reached second on a stolen base, tried to come home and was thrown out when Gundlach retrieved the ball and fired a strike to catcher John Broll.
The Eagles left the bases loaded in the fourth inning. First baseman Tyler Gray opened the inning with a single and Richards hit both center fielder Alex Sortwell and Walts with pitches. With two outs, Richards squelched the rally by getting second baseman Matt Gundlach on a fly ball to right field.
The Panthers tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. Cole singled to left and designated hitter Payton Reed singled through the hole at shortstop. Cole was running on the pitch, which allowed him to get to third base. Center fielder Matt Borgschulte hit into a fielder's choice to second base to score Cole home.
The Eagles went in front 2-1 in the top of the fifth. Kaido banged out his third consecutive single, advanced to second base on left fielder Austin Erb's sacrifice bunt and scored on a Hampshire single.
The Panthers drew even in the bottom of sixth on Reed's sacrifice fly to center field. That scored first baseman Colton Johnson, who opened the inning by getting nicked by a Baldwin pitch.
Baldwin got the win, going eight innings and allowing two runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out two.
"It was another outstanding pitching performance from Jake [Baldwin]," John Schaly said.
Richards lasted 8.2 innings and sustained the loss. He gave up three runs on eight hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
Three players -- Kaido, Hampshire and Gray -- accounted for seven of Ashland's nine hits.