What’s the encore for a perfect game?
If you’re Logan Salow, the answer is a 14-strikeout shutout against archrival Boyd County to end the Lions’ run of seven straight district titles.
Ten days after his gem against Lawrence County at Prestonsburg, the senior lefthander was brilliant again in the 64th District Tournament final Tuesday night at Alumni Field.
Salow scattered four singles in a 2-0 victory — the first time Boyd County has been blanked all season.
“Logan’s very good,” said Brandon Ramsey, the Lions’ head coach and a former Marshall University pitcher. “This is the third time we’ve seen him this year. Most of our guys have six, seven, eight at-bats against him. It seems like they still struggle to see the ball out of his hand.”
Boyd County isn’t alone. Salow, who will be a preferred walk-on at the University of Kentucky, entered Tuesday having struck out 65 of the 105 batters he faced this spring.
After dealing with arm issues to start the season, Salow has found his groove just when the defending 16th Region champs need him the most.
“Early on, I had some arm soreness,” he said. “All my mechanics were not working. Everything is coming into sync, finally.”
Cranking up his fastball and spotting his curve effectively, Salow allowed only one Boyd County runner as far as second base. Robbie Shivel opened the game with a line-drive single and stole second after Salow registered his first two strikeouts. He made it three in a row with a called third strike.
“Phenomenal. Logan just makes everything look easy,” Ashland coach Jeff Wilcox said. “He’s such a great competitor. What can you say about that performance?”
Salow, who issued only one walk, needed to be especially sharp because Boyd County starter Billy McCoy pitched a strong game as well. The junior limited Ashland to three singles in six innings and retired the last 11 batters he faced.
“Billy’s a tough pitcher,” Salow said. “He hits his spots well, and they are a great defensive team. If you put the ball in play, they are going to field it.”
Neither team made an error. Salow’s teammates flashed some leather behind him as third baseman Cody Conley grabbed a line drive above his head in the second inning and shortstop Evan Cox speared a hard one-hopper up the middle to rob Corey Sublett of a hit.
Meanwhile, Tomcat backup catcher Pete Mullins gave the team a boost with his solid play in a starting role for the district championship game. Mullins, a junior, filled in behind the plate for Cameron Fritz, who hurt his throwing shoulder Friday at Fleming County and served as designated hitter Tuesday.
“Pete did an amazing job,” Salow said. “He’s usually our bullpen catcher, but stepped in today and we didn’t skip a beat.”
Boyd County had beaten Ashland in six of the last seven district title games, as well as during the first round in 2009.
“It’s been a battle,” Wilcox said. “We had some close games that Boyd County came out on the winning side. We broke through today. We have five seniors and one of the goals before the season was to win the district. I’m happy for them.”
Ashland, now 23-9, defeated the Lions for the third consecutive time this season.
The Tomcats scored twice in the third inning to give Salow all the offensive support he needed.
Cox led off with an infield single, then took second on a wild pitch. Salow walked and both runners moved up on Jared Slone’s well-placed sacrifice bunt. Cade O’Bryan poked an RBI single to center, and Aaron Elam followed with a deep sacrifice fly that scored courtesy runner Taylor Bradley.
“Except for the one inning, Billy really pitched well,” Ramsey said. “That’s kind of been his history. He’s cruising along and hits one little blip.”
Boyd County’s Jordan Smith led off the third with his first of two singles, but Slone fielded a grounder at second and tagged Smith before throwing on to first for a double play.
Salow racked up eight strikeouts the rest of the way, including the top of the order in the sixth and two more in the seventh.
“Coach (Dwight) Walter did a great job calling pitches,” Salow said. “Boyd County’s a good-hitting team. You have to move the ball around.”
The Lions (19-16) looked at several called third strikes as Salow kept them off balance.
“We’ve got to do a little better at the plate,” Ramsey said. “I know he’s a good pitcher and threw well, but some of the guys capable of doing better didn’t.”
Both teams will be back at Alumni Field next week for the 16th Region Tournament. The draw will be conducted Friday afternoon.
BOYD CO. 000 000 0 — 0 4 0
ASHLAND 002 000 0 — 2 3 0
McCoy and Barnwell; Salow and Mullins. W—Salow. L—McCoy.