For The Independent
Question: What four-game Lewis County losing streak?
Answer: the one the Lions snapped Saturday by knocking off visiting Ashland, 2-0, in the third annual Lewis County Autism Awareness game.
Lewis County senior left fielder Wade Adams was low-key about what his team did. “We've been struggling lately, and it's good for us to get a win right now,” he said. “We struggled, really, everywhere, kind of. We started hitting the ball (Saturday).”
“It's a big win for our team, a big win for the program,” Lewis County coach Jack Lykins said. “I can't say enough about how Daulton pitched. First game he started this year, he did a great job.”
That would be senior Daulton Mason, and he mostly stymied the Tomcats: nine strikeouts and just three hits. What was more, neither Lykins nor Mason knew there was a no-hitter through four innings.
“We were wanting to throw him three innings at the most,” Lykins said. “He came in and said, 'I'm fine, I'm fine, leave me in,' so we left him in.”
Mason threw 100 pitches (56 were strikes), and he added a double and scored a run. He didn't think any one particular pitch worked.
“I was just throwing it over the plate and letting the defense work behind me,” he said.
Ashland (8-6) coach Jeff Wilcox talked before the game about his team not hitting very well lately.
“Give (Mason) credit,” Wilcox said afterward. “He's probably one of the best pitchers we've seen; he threw very well. We didn't execute (Saturday). We tried some bunts, and guys that normally get 'em down didn't get 'em down, and that takes us right out of our offense.”
Both Mason and Ashland's Robert Griffith survived first-inning challenges. Mason walked two, and Ashland third baseman Jared Slone reached third, but Mason suffocated the threat by striking out catcher Pete Mullins.
Lewis County (9-5) fared better. Adams singled, reached second on a wild pitch, went to third on a fielder's choice and scored on a delayed double steal (Mason took second).
“I took it on myself,” Adams said. “I had to take a chance. I'd seen (Griffith) was playing around, so I went.”
Wilcox said somebody should have told Griffith to step off the mound before Adams ever took off – which he said was part of his team's inexperience.
“That shows right there, people playing out of position and (Griffith, who had battled mononucleosis for about a month) not getting many starts for us,” Wilcox said. “After that, I thought he came back and pitched very well.”
Ashland's Austin Kelley opened the second with a walk, but Mason picked him off. Mason then fanned Josh Bradley, and Adams robbed Matt Vincent with a full-extension grab.
There was considerably less stress over the next three frames, and hits were as hard to find as bottled water in California's Mojave Desert.
Griffith retired seven straight at one point, and he finished with six strikeouts.
Ashland shortstop Josh Bradley's fifth-inning single to center broke up Mason's no-hitter. Problem was, after Vincent's grounder to Mason (who threw out Bradley at second), the Tomcats' Evan Cox grounded into a double-play.
In the sixth, Mason's double to left field turned into his run on a passed ball and Isaac Weddington's fielder's choice grounder to shortstop.
“I think it was a hanging curve because (Griffith) dropped down sidearm, off-speed,” Mason said of his double. “ … First swing, (I) came out of my shoes and gave it a (ride).”
Ashland loaded the bases in the seventh on an error, Mullins' single, Austin Kelley's sacrifice bunt and Vincent's sacrifice bunt. The game ended when Evan Cox grounded to third.
Notes: The streak Lewis County ended was the Lions' first four-game skid since April 19-May 7, 2011 … Four Lewis County baseball players, Adams, Weddington, senior Sammy Holder and junior Austin Rucker, raised over $4,000 for Saturday's Autism Awareness activities, which included a one-mile walk and wiffle ball game at Lewis County Middle School … Ashland is home with Ironton (5:30 p.m. Monday), at Boyd County (6 p.m. Tuesday) and home with Greenup County … Lewis County's week is one game busier: a 63rd District home-and-home series with Russell (6 p.m. Monday in Flatwoods and 6 p.m. Tuesday in Vanceburg), a home game against Bath County (6 p.m. Thursday), and a journey to Harrison County (6:45 p.m. Friday).
ASHLAND 000 000 0 – 0
LEWIS CO. 100 001 x – 2
Griffith and Mullins. Mason and Wallingford. W-Mason. L-Griffith. 2B-Mason (LC).