Always accompanying hard-throwing Ashland pitcher Logan Salow is the wow factor.
Catcher Cam Fritz even calls it a “blast” behind being the plate when the lefty is firing at high velocity.
The Tomcats’ bats were also doing plenty of wowing and blasting on Tuesday as Ashland plowed Russell, 14-6, at Russell High School. They raked out five doubles among their 15 total hits in a game that nearly ended after five innings.
“In the past couple games, our hits have just come together and we’ve played as a team,” said Fritz, who supplied a pair of base knocks and a trio of RBIs.
During its current eight-game winning streak, Ashland has cracked double figures in runs three times. The Tomcats’ 14 on Tuesday accounted for a season-high.
Time-of-possession is more of a football statistic, but the Tomcats owned the time-at-the-plate category for the first four innings against the Red Devils. In that span, Ashland sent 29 batters to the dish compared to Russell’s 17.
Ashland (15-7) trotted six players to the batter’s box during a six-run fourth inning before an out was recorded. Responsible for much of the damage was the bottom of the lineup — the 7-8-9 hitters tallied seven hits between them.
Jake Hall, Cody Conley and Evan Cox also drove in a combined six runs. Hall was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Conley 3-for-5 with one RBI and Cox went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
“We got some great production from the bottom of the lineup,” said Ashland coach Jeff Wilcox. “They’re very capable of doing that.”
Aaron Elam chipped in with a couple doubles, Cade O’Bryan hit two singles and drove in a pair and Evan Yongue racked up two hits and two RBIs.
Fritz drove in the fifth and sixth runs, helping the ’Cats capitalize on two Russell errors in the second inning. On a 1-2 pitch, he laced a two-out hot shot back up the middle that whizzed by the glove of relief pitcher Alex Jones.
“I’ve been seeing the ball better,” said Fritz, a junior. “I’ve just been keeping in, staying relaxed. Before I was getting real jumpy. Now I just relax and trust my hands.”
Fritz’s left paw took the brunt of Salow’s 84 pitches in four innings. The senior struck out 10 and didn’t give up a hit until Tate Trimble grounded a two-run single into left field in the fourth. It was just Salow’s third start of the season after battling through some throwing arm soreness at the beginning of the year.
“He’s starting to hit his spots a lot more than he was,” Fritz said.
Russell (12-12) drew a walk (Heath Hensley) and J.D. Pridemore got plunked by Salow before Trimble turned a 14-0 deficit into 14-2.
The Red Devils added four runs against reliever Aaron Elam in the fifth to extend the game and avoid the five-inning, 10-run mercy rule. Pridemore drew an RBI walk, Trimble hit a high fly ball that Salow misplayed in center as another run scored and then Garion Robinson blooped a run-scoring single into center field to close the gap to 14-5 in the bottom of the fifth. Just Fraley sliced an RBI single into left field for the sixth run.
“I was proud that we fought back, but a lot of it had to do with Salow being off the mound,” said Russell coach Mike Martino. “When you have a dominating pitcher, that’s half the battle ...
“... We livened up and started to hit the ball.”
O’Bryan tossed the final two innings for Ashland, while sophomore Bobby May recorded the last 12 outs for Russell. May was making his first pitching appearance of the season.
“I’m betting he’ll get a few more,” quipped Martino.
Russell celebrated its numerous field renovations with a pre-game ceremony. Among the additions to the complex are a new scoreboard, a glistening black backstop and fencing jutting from the backstop to the dugouts, a revamped pitching mound that was worked on by members of the Cincinnati Reds groundscrew and a complete paint job.
“This is a stadium now, not just a ball field,” Martino said.
ASHLAND 422 600 0 — 14 15 2
RUSSELL 000 240 0 — 6 6 3
Salow, Elam (5), O’Bryan (6) and Fritz; McKee, Jones (1), May (4) and Cathey. W—Salow. L—McKee. 2B—Elam (A) 2, Yongue (A), Cox (A), Conley (A), Hensley (R).
Always accompanying hard-throwing Ashland pitcher Logan Salow is the wow factor.
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Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp
The Fleming County Panthers waited nearly an hour to ascend the ladders set up under the goals at Ellis T. Johnson Arena on Tuesday night.
To the victor belongs the spoils, which traditionally includes the nets after winning a tournament title. But Fleming County milled around on Morehead State’s floor taking pictures and soaking in the atmosphere after handling Ashland 82-59 in the 16th Region Tournament final.
Snipping the twine was almost an afterthought. In fact, except for a minute or so of celebration with their student section immediately following the final buzzer, the Panthers didn’t really even seem all that excited.
They expected to be here, and they were all business after earning back-to-back region titles and trips to Rupp Arena.
AARON SNYDER: Truth or Dare unkind to ’Cats
Ashland was left feeling like the shy kid after an intense game of Truth or Dare.
Truth: Fleming County outrebounded Ashland, 39-24, after Ashland outdueled Greenup County by 10 the night before.
'Relaxed' Steward earns MVP award
Both Fleming County coach Mark Starns and stellar senior Troy Steward attributed his significant strides this season to aggressiveness.
Playing a part, too, in Steward earning the 16th Region Tournament Most Valuable Player award was the lack of nerves, which were nearly overwhelming at times a year ago.
Central's 15th Region reign continues
Once was good.
Twice was nice.
Three was sweet for the Johnson Central Eagles.
Senior Slade McPeek scored 22 points and earned most valuable player honors Tuesday night as Johnson Central rolled past Shelby Valley, 81-56, for its third straight 15th Region championship at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
- Fleming goes for two: Panthers beat Ashland for 16th Region repeat Fleming County pulled away early and never looked back as the Panthers pounced on Ashland, winning 82-59 in the 16th Region championship game on Tuesday in Morehead. Fleming County will face Scott County in the Sweet Sixteen next Wednesday at Rupp Arena.
VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
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