Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 27, 2013

‘Senior moments’ help ’Cats past Lewis

Salow’s two-baggers, O’Bryan’s long ball supply offensive highlights; Fritz pitches efficient game

Ray Schaefer
For The Independent

VANCEBURG — If you're an over-65 seasoned citizen, having a forgetful “senior moment” can be cause for concern.

Ashland's baseball team had four Friday at Lewis County, but they were reasons to rejoice. Senior center fielder Logan Salow's two doubles, a single and two runs batted in, which, combined with senior third baseman Cade O'Bryan's home run and single helped give the defending 16th Region champion Tomcats a 6-1 win.

Salow sprayed his doubles off Lewis County starter Brett Wampler — a first-pitch shot to center to open the game (he later scored on first baseman Aaron Elam's sacrifice fly to center) and a 2-1 pitch to right in the second inning that scored left fielder Jake Hall and designated hitter Austin Kelley.

“I hopped on a few early pitches in the count,” Salow said. “They were both fastballs, but (Wampler) left them out over the heart of the plate, and I did exactly what I wanted to do with them.”

O'Bryan's homer? A 1-2 fastball that hit the right field foul pole.

“It was just a curveball,” O'Bryan said. “I was expecting a curveball. It was just hanging a little bit, and I've been working hard trying to stay back on the ball.”

Spend more than five minutes around Salow and O'Bryan, and you'll find their personalities are as different as 6-foot-10 recently retired pitcher Randy Johnson and 3-7 pinch-hitter Eddie Gaedel from 1951.

Here's Salow on O'Bryan: “He's got a little bit bigger mouth on him than I do, but in a good way, not a bad way. I'm a little more quiet … All in all, we just want to win baseball games.”

O'Bryan missed Thursday's Ironton game because he visited Georgetown College (he'll play football there next fall), and he drove directly to Vanceburg yesterday. He heard what Salow said, and he agreed with his personality analysis.

“Logan's not as vocal,” O'Bryan said. “He goes out and plays hard and hopes people can pick up from him … I try to be the more emotional, vocal leader.”

Ashland completed a 3-0 week, part of a successful three-week stretch — Friday was the Tomcats' (13-7) sixth consecutive victory, and they are 10-3 over their last 13. What's more, after Tuesday's 3-2, 12-inning win over Boyd County and the 5-4 triumph over Ironton, Ashland coach Jeff Wilcox was happy to have a suspense-free game.

“We made some great plays out in the field (and) a great performance by Cam Fritz and against a very, very good Lewis County team,” Wilcox said. “I'm very, very happy.”

Friday was Lewis County's seventh game since April 19 — with a  3-4 record — and the Lions play Covington Holmes and Nicholas County today in Carlisle.

“That was bad scheduling on my part, I'm sure, but we want to play good teams,” coach Keith Prater said. “And in order to play good teams, we have to play them in days that we typically won't play … You know, there's no excuses; Ashland came out and played well, they hit the ball well.”

Friday started out like it would be a closer game. Lewis County tied the game at 1-1 after one on center fielder Sammy Holder's double to left, a passed ball and right fielder Grant Liles' sacrifice fly to center.

Wilcox's lone worry last night was the Tomcats who didn't score — Ashland stranded 10, eight on either second or third base.

“We've got to find ways to score more runs,” Wilcox said. “When you've got runners on there, you've got to do a better job getting the ball down on the ground, making the defense work.”

Fritz's seventh-inning walk-off single was enough to beat Ironton, and he partly earned Friday's win by bailing out the Tomcats in the third. After Holder doubled to center (Tomcat catcher Pete Mullins threw him out trying to steal second) and Liles doubled, Fritz retired Levi Clark on a fly to center and threw out Jordan McCann.

Fritz, who beat Ironton with a seventh-inning walk-off single, didn't have his changeup Friday, but his fastball and curveball worked, and he was happy to let his teammates do the work.

“I'm a catcher who likes to pitch,” Fritz said. “... I was behind the plate last year, and I enjoy it, feel comfortable there.”

Salow scored Ashland's sixth run in the fourth on second baseman Jared Slone's sacrifice fly to center.

Fritz threw 91 pitches (60 strikes), striking out seven and walking only two. He saved his best for last — he retired 12 of the last 13 he faced between the third and seventh innings.

Ashland continues its road swing Monday at Fairland (Ohio), followed by Russell Tuesday and Fairview Thursday.

ASHLAND    121    200    0    —    6    9    2

LEWIS CO.    100    000    0    —    1    3    2

Fritz and Mullins; Wampler, Doyle (5), Duncan (6), Thompson (7) and McCann. W—Fritz. L—Wampler. HR—O'Bryan (A). 2B—Salow (A) 2, Holder (LC), Liles (LC).