A frustrated Tomcat tossed the bat aside and trotted to first when Fairview took the bat out of his hands with an intentional walk.
A total of 12 hits, 11 runs and a solid pitching performance helped Aaron Elam’s frustration quickly subside.
Ashland beat Fairview, 11-1, in five innings on Monday at Alumni Field to clinch the top seed in the three-team 64th District and punch a ticket to the 16th Region Tournament.
“Coach (Jeff Wilcox) has been talking about getting our goal, which is to win the region and go to state, and this makes it a little bit closer,” said Elam, a sophomore.
Sam Hunter, a senior and fifth-year starting pitcher, confused Fairview hitters, who managed just three singles. Hunter had 10 strikeouts and threw only 69 pitches.
Fairview coach Terry Thompson seemed ready to hand Hunter his high school diploma on Monday.
“When does Sam Hunter get old?” Thompson said with a wry smile. “He was pitching when my son (Matt, at University of Charleston) was here and he’s a senior in college.”
Hunter delivered a fine effort back in March to hand Fairview an 8-0 loss at Central Park.
“When he’s on, he’s tough to hit. I don’t care how many times you see him,” Wilcox said.
A singles-laced offense backed Hunter. Evan Yongue accounted for the team’s lone extra base hit, a fourth-inning two-run double.
Elam went 2-for-2, and while he was one of three ’Cats left stranded after his intentional pass in a scoreless first, he turned his next three plate appearances into three RBIs. He singled sharply to right field twice, each time plating a run, in the third and fourth off Fairview starter Austin Rowe, and drew a walk-off walk against Zach Messer to end the game by mercy rule in the fifth.
“We’ve been hitting really well lately,” said Elam of his team, which takes a four-game winning streak into tonight’s matchup against Russell. “It was an all-around team effort and we just ended it quick.”
Cade O’Bryan tallied three singles and drove in a pair. Logan Salow singled twice and recorded an RBI.
Ashland (16-5) didn’t forget its gloves, either. Jared Slone made a fantastic diving stop in the second inning at second base, a putout completed by a throw from his back. Joe Stewart, at shortstop, complemented Slone in the middle infield with a field-and-throw on the run to retire C.J. Leadingham in the fourth.
Fairview (11-11) committed four errors. Thompson’s concern was concentrated on that, but also on his team’s hitting — the Eagles have scored just four runs in their last three games, including two in the last two.
“Let’s just face it, we weren’t hitting tonight. That’s two bad ones in a row,” Thompson said. His team played just its second game in 11 days with a school senior trip to Florida being the culprit.
Fairview and Boyd County face off tonight in Westwood. The game serves as a preview to the first round of the district tournament. The Eagles beat the Lions for the first time in 30-plus seasons on April 16.
“We’re not going to beat Boyd County the way we’re playing right now,” Thompson said.
Ethan Cantrell’s RBI single in the fifth accounted for the Eagles’ only run as Austin Pemberton scored.
FAIRVIEW 000 01 — 1 3 4
ASHLAND 012 44 — 11 12 0
Rowe, Messer (5) and Burke; Hunter and Fritz. W—Hunter. L—Rowe. 2B—Yongue (A).