When Ashland starting pitcher Evan Yongue needs to refocus, he calmly strolls around the mound to gather his thoughts.
The senior spent most of his time working circles around Mason County hitters on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Central Park’s Ernie Chattin Field.
Yongue hurled a complete game shutout as Ashland beat the Royals, 3-0.
“It was a great performance,” said Tomcats coach Jeff Wilcox. “He was really hitting his spots.”
Yongue threw a grand total of 100 pitches as he tallied seven strikeouts and gave up just one hit — Nathan Cracraft’s second-inning double sneaked inside the right-field line by inches.
Yongue’s only trouble came in the fourth and fifth innings, a span in which he hit three batters and walked one. Nothing a few steps away from the rubber couldn’t solve.
“I wasn’t following through and I wasn’t focused,” said Yongue, who tossed three shutouts last season. “Whenever I get messed up, I like to walk around the mound and just kind of think about everything. I was struggling (hitting) at the plate, and I was letting that get to me.
“In that fourth and fifth inning I just had to bear down and throw fastballs,” he said.
After the first two Royals reached in the fourth, Yongue bailed himself out of trouble with some nifty glovework. He recorded a putout on a sacrifice bunt, induced a popout to second base and then hopped to his left to field a grounder before tossing to first base to keep the shutout intact.
“My speed and quickness help me get off the mound,” said the two-sport athlete, citing football drills as assistance.
In all, Yongue racked up five putouts himself as he followed up his five-inning, 10-strikeout effort against Fleming County with another gem. He is 2-0 on the young season.
Ashland (2-1) shot out to a two-run lead in the first frame. Jared Slone, who moved from the ninth spot in the lineup to the No. 2 hole, scorched a single into left field before Cade O’Bryan tagged a screaming line drive over the center fielder’s head for a double.
Aaron Elam followed with a fly ball that was misplayed by the left fielder, allowing Slone to score. Cam Fritz later hit a roller that scooted under the glove of the third baseman which plated O’Bryan.
Mason County pitcher Aaron Scilley found his zone midway through the contest. The righth-hander retired nine straight Tomcats during one stint that included back-to-back 1-2-3, seven-pitch innings.
The Royals didn’t help him much by committing six total errors. They had three miscues in the sixth inning, and Ashland capitalized in the form of an Evan Cox run.
“We’ve just got to keep working hard, keep working on fundamentals,” said Mason County coach Thomas Posey. “We’re still making errors that we shouldn’t be doing.”
Mason County went scoreless on Friday night as well, falling to pitcher Sammy Holder and Lewis County, 4-0. The Royals (2-4) moved to 0-3 against 16th Region teams, also losing to Bath County.
Ashland will take part in the Christian Academy Louisville Tournament beginning on Tuesday. The Tomcats are scheduled to face Grayson County, Pope John Paul II (Tennessee) and Chicago Brother Rice (Illinois).
MASON CO. 000 000 0 — 0 1 6
ASHLAND 200 001 x — 3 5 1
Scilley and Sapp; Yongue and Fritz. W—Yongue. L—Scilley. 2B—O’Bryan (A), Cracraft (M).