Some of the world’s most fascinating discoveries once lied at the bottom of the sea.
Russell pitchers have found it less than entertaining to explore the bottom of Ashland’s lineup this season. The Tomcats’ 7-8-9 hitters collected seven RBIs as the Tomcats sank the Red Devils, 13-3, in five innings on Tuesday at Ashland’s Alumni Field.
Jake Hall, Cody Conley and Evan Cox also provided extensive damage in Ashland’s 14-6 defeat of Russell on April 30, when the trio strung up six RBIs on seven hits.
Hall and Conley each doubled and drove in three. Cox, while he drew a run-scoring walk, did most of his work on the mound. He became the fourth straight Tomcat starter to turn in a complete game effort as he tossed five innings and gave up five hits.
“That’s been our strong suit all year long, our pitching,” said Ashland coach Jeff Wilcox, who watched Logan Salow, Evan Yongue, Cam Fritz and Cox allow just seven runs over the last 26 innings.
Cox got plenty of support on Tuesday as Ashland batted around in both the second and fourth innings. The Tomcats forced Russell to lift Joel Mullen, one of the Red Devils’ top pitchers, in the fourth inning.
“I’m very happy with the way we put the bat on the ball,” Wilcox said. “In the first inning, we weren’t very patient.”
Ashland went three up, three down in the first before amassing five runs in the second with the assistance of two walks and a hit batter.
The Tomcats increased their lead to 7-0 in the third inning, during which Conley executed a hit-and-run to perfection. The right-handed hitter lined a curve ball to exactly where the second baseman had been positioned before he scooted toward the bag with the baserunner in motion.
Conley went the other way again in the Tomcats’ five-run fifth as he supplied the second two-run double of the inning. Hall had the other with a deep fly to left that bounced against the fence.
“At the beginning of the year I couldn’t even hit it to the right side,” said Conley, a junior. “If I did, it was a pop-up to the infield. I got in the (batting) cages, and (coaches) had me hit everything to right field.”
Conley grasped what he had been doing wrong.
“I was swinging too long, so I had to shorten up, get my hands to the ball first,” Conley said. “I kept practicing my swing because I was trying to pull everything (at first).”
Jared Slone, Cade O’Bryan and Aaron Elam went 2-for-4 on Tuesday.
Fritz was 1-for-1 with three walks. His one hit ended the game early due to the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth — he drove Slone home with a single to left.
In all, Ashland had 12 hits. The Tomcats tallied 15 in the first meeting with Russell.
Russell (17-14) couldn’t carry any momentum gained with Monday’s 6-3 win over Boyd County into Tuesday night.
Mullen encountered control issues in both the second and fourth frames. The second was also prolonged by an error.
The Red Devils plated all three of their runs in the fourth. Troy Huffine doubled, Tate Trimble raced him home with a soft-lining single to left field and Garion Robinson laid down a squeeze bunt to bring in a run. The third run ended up coming across with the help of two Ashland errors.
Wilcox said defense is the one facet of the Tomcats’ game that is lagging a bit behind.
“We had two errors, and I don’t accept that,” said the coach. “We have to make the routine plays. We turned a nice double play (started by Cox), and we were doing a good job for a while, then bam, there’s a routine play we don’t make. We’re still battling and working on it to get where we want it to get before (the 16th Region Tournament) rolls around.”
Salow gets plaque
Ashland senior Logan Salow received a plaque honoring his perfect game that he pitched on Saturday in a 2-0 win against Lawrence County in Prestonsburg.
Bobby Lynch, David Payne and Jeff Wilcox were all involved in the presentation of the hardware. Lynch was the last Tomcat to hurl a perfect game. His was a five-inning gem against Ceredo-Kenova in 1968.
Salow’s outing consisted of 18 strikeouts and just 79 pitches.
RUSSELL 000 30 — 3 5 1
ASHLAND 052 51 — 13 12 2
Mullen, Spainhower (4) and Cathey; Cox and Fritz. W—Cox. L—Mullen. 2B—Hall (A), Conley (A), Huffine (R).