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).