UPLAND, Ind. - After staving off elimination against two-seeded Saint Francis, the Foresters’ hopes of a repeat conference title came to end Thursday afternoon at Taylor University as they dropped their second game to Spring Arbor in as many days.
Blake Ayers ripped a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift HU over Saint Francis 7-6 Thursday morning.
Ayers finished the game 3-for-4 with two walks. Eric Schultz, Josh Lanphier and Brian Kirschbaum all left the yard for the Foresters (26-25). Schultz and Shaun Marion had two hits apiece.
The story of the marathon win over Saint Francis was walks. Huntington worked 10 free passes in the game while handing out just three to the Cougars, who outhit the Foresters 15-11.
Kirschbaum got the win in relief. He came on in the seventh and held Saint Francis (33-24) to two runs over 4.2 innings of work. Ethan Tribolet started the game and allowed four runs on nine hits in 6.1 innings.
With the victory, the Foresters moved on to a Thursday night rematch with Spring Arbor where they suffered a season-ending 10-7 loss to the Cougars.
Walks were again the difference in the game but this time it didn’t favor HU as they gave up nine base on balls to SAU’s two.
Huntington’s only lead came after Lanphier’s RBI single in the top of the first as the Cougars worked over HU starter Cody Walters for five runs in the second to jump on top 5-1.
The Foresters played catch up after that as Schultz logged his second four-bagger of the tourney in the third to pull HU even at 5-5 and then knocked in two runs in the sixth to tie it up a second time at 7-7 but it proved to be their last surge. The Cougars answered with two runs in their half of the frame and added an insurance run in the seventh to knock HU out of the tourney.
Schultz finished with three hits, a run, a walk and three RBI in his last game in a Forester uniform. Adam Christner added three hits, scored three runs and drove in another while Lanphier tallied a pair of hits and an RBI.
Derek McKinney took the loss in the circle. He pitched 3.2 innings of relief and gave up four runs and five hits.
Huntington wraps up its season with an overall record of 26-26.