There was a certain electricity on Thursday evening around a packed Lucky Corner at the top of the seventh inning. The Leprechauns held a 2-1 lead, but what everyone cared about was the zero in the hit column for the Ice Haulers. Since it is the first game of a doubleheader, this was to be the final inning of the game, putting the Leprechauns three outs away from a no-hitter.
Unfortunately for Royal Oak, it was not to be, as Luke Walton hit a hard ground ball in between short and third for a single.
Alas, the Leprechauns kept focus, they were desperate for a win, as they had lost their previous six contests. Ryan Kruse (Northern Kentucky) barely blinked at losing the no-no, and retired the following three batters, leaving Walton at second to preserve the victory. Brayden Dowd (USC) made a running play in left-center to record the final out of the game, giving Royal Oak a 2-1 win.
Royal Oak’s no-hit bid came at the elite pitching of Stephen Ruhle (Michigan State). In five no-hit innings, Ruhle struck out seven batters and only allowed two runners to reach base. Sandusky did not hit a ball to an outfielder until the fourth inning. He only faced one over the minimum, with the only inning the Ice Haulers got a fourth batter to the plate being in the fifth inning.
Both runs on the day for the Leprechauns came in the bottom of the third inning. With Trey Haeger (Hillsdale) on third and two outs, Brayden Dowd came through with a clutch RBI single. Following that, Collin Overholt (Ashland) mashed a hit into the right-center gap, scoring Dowd from first and making it 2-0.
The seven-inning contest flew by due to the low amounts of offense, with the final pitch being throw an hour and twenty-six minutes after the first pitch. A massive change of crowd size could be observed as the game progressed. Initially, due to plenty of rain prior to the start of the game, there were probably only a few dozen fans at the park. Now, as fans await the beginning of game two of the doubleheader, it is difficult to find a seat that is not occupied.
Royal Oak will look for consecutive wins for the first time in eleven days. They will certainly be playing with more pride, with the monkey of a losing streak off their backs and added confidence of a win over a solid Sandusky squad.