Grizzlies make it six in a row

Bryce Rogan and Jack Carroll were at their best when the pressure was on as Ashland survived a shaky performance by its infield to win the first of four head-to-head matchups with Southern Oregon Hybrid 5A rival Eagle Point, 14-9, Thursday at North Mountain Park.

Rogan's two-run double in the fifth gave the Grizzlies some much-needed breathing room, and Carroll took the mound with the bases loaded in the sixth and steered Ashland out of trouble with back-to-back strikeouts as the Grizzlies earned their sixth win in a row to improve to 7-5.

"Today was more of a slugfest," Ashland head coach John Wallace said. "We just couldn't locate the fastball today and got a lot of balls up and they hit us hard. And the defense was very sloppy, so we had to make up for that with our bats, which we were able to do."

Eagle Point's seven errors didn't hurt, either.

Rogan, who entered the game batting .395, was 2-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs. Jamie Flynn and Ryan Bottimore also had two hits each, with Flynn's RBI triple in the fifth giving Ashland a 12-6 lead.

The Eagles chipped away in the sixth. Back-to-back hits by Brandon Wilson and Nate Brammer, who was 4-for-5 with three doubles and four RBIs, followed by an intentional walk set the table for pinch hitter Nick Smith. Facing a 2-2 count against Ashland reliever Crater Glick, Smith hit a chopper down the third-base line that Eric Carlson couldn't handle and two runs scored to cut the lead to 12-8.

Glick walked the next batter to load the bases again, prompting Wallace to bring in Carroll. The 6-foot-5 lefty struck out Justin Hughes with a 2-2 fastball, then dispatched Eagle Point's leadoff hitter, Destin Adams, with a change-up at the knees on a 1-2 count.

"I was just thinking about hitting the strike zone," Carroll said. "I know they can't hit me if I just hit the zone."

Ashland starter Steen Fredrickson struck out eight in four innings and picked up his fourth straight win to improve to 4-2. He allowed six runs on seven hits, but only four of those runs were earned as Ashland overcame two costly errors.

Wilson started on the mound for Eagle Point (6-9) and gave up 12 runs, nine earned, in five innings before James Dixon took over in the sixth.

The Eagles took a brief 1-0 lead in the first but missed a chance to deliver a major blow when Fredrickson struck out both Dixon and Jon Korn to escape a bases-loaded jam.

Ashland took command in the second, scoring seven runs on four hits, including back-to-back RBI singles by Rogan and Bottimore. Eagle Point also committed two errors in the inning, including a misplayed grounder to third that could have been turned into an inning-ending double play but instead led to the first two Ashland runs.

Rogan's rope down the right-field line in the fifth gave Ashland an 11-6 lead and helped the Grizzlies regain the momentum after Eagle Point rallied in the top of the inning. It was Rogan's second clutch hit in as many games after his bases-loaded single helped Ashland down North Medford on Saturday.

"Once I got ahead (in the count) early, I knew a fastball was coming and I sat on it," Rogan said.

Ashland will probably have to play a cleaner game in order to beat its next opponent — Crater. The Comets (8-4) boast one of the top batting lineups in southern Oregon and were the last team to beat the Grizzlies — 7-4 on March 23.

"They're always good and it's always a pretty good little rivalry between us," Wallace said of the weekend twin bill, which starts at noon at Anhorn Field in Central Point. "It'll be fun, but it'll be a good challenge for us to see, now that we've had a little bit of success the last few weeks, to see how far we've taken it."

Eagle Point 103 022 1 — 9 10 7

Ashland 070 232 x — 14 10 2

Wilson, Dixon (6) and Hangaard; Fredrickson, Glick (5), Carroll (6) and Glick, N. Scott (5). W — Fredrickson (4-2). L — Wilson. 2B — EP: Brammer 3, Wilson, Dixon; A: Rogan. 3B — A: Flynn.

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