Ayers' bat helps HU earn split with MVNU

The Huntington University baseball team let a 6-0 lead slip away in the first game of a doubleheader against host Mount Vernon Nazarene University on Saturday, April 6, but clutch hitting by Blake Ayers in the sixth inning helped the Foresters escape with a 7-6 victory.

Huntington, 7-15, 7-5 in the Crossroads League, dropped the second game 4-0.

Ayers led all batters in the first game with a 4 for 4 day at the plate, knocking in a run and scoring a run himself.

The junior second baseman belted out a double in the top of the sixth, which plated Jordan Klopfenstein, who reached base on a walk, for what proved to be the game's winning run.

Ayers was also involved in Huntington's offensive hot streak early in the game, when it picked up a run apiece in the first and second innings and piled on four in the third.

Ayers got things started in the third with a single. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, which positioned him to score when Jamon Hammel singled and took second on the throw. Hammel then turned run-scorer when Brian Kirschbaum reached on a fielder's choice, advancing to second, sending pinch runner to Tanner Wyse to third and Hammel home, thanks to a throwing error by center fielder Jordan Doherty. Bryce Anderson's single to right field plated Wyse and Kirschbaum, capping off the Foresters' big inning.

Pitcher Xyan Adkisson held the Cougars scoreless in the first three frames, but got dinged for three runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth, giving way to Kyle Zerfas in the fifth, who pitched 1.1 innings of relief for the win. Kirschbaum took the mound for the last 1.2 innings, yielding no hits and striking out two to record the save.

Mount Vernon Nazarene, 17-8, 9-5 in the Crossroads League, got help from everyone in its rally, with a different player accounting for each of its six runs and five players smacking two or more hits. The Cougars banged out 15 hits to the Foresters' 11.

Hurler Mike Kochheiser took the loss for Mount Vernon Nazarene, surrendering eight hits and four earned runs in two innings of work.

Pitching was the Cougars' strength in the second game, however, as Justin Brown held Huntington scoreless, scattering six hits over a complete game and striking out five to get the win.

Mount Vernon Nazarene got to Huntington pitcher John Ripke early, scoring three runs in the first and picking up insurance tally in the third.

Ripke threw 5.1 innings in the losing effort, giving up nine hits and four earned runs.

Riley Swanson paced the Cougars at the plate, going 2 for 2 with two RBI.