EAGLE POINT — Moments after exchanging postgame handshakes with Eagle Point, a few Grizzlies attempted to corner teammate Ian Kendall, but Kendall spun away and sprinted down the field.
Across the way, the Eagles could relate. Nobody could catch up to Kendall on this day.
Wielding a blur of a fastball, Ashland's junior pitcher struck out 10 and did not allow an earned run in his second straight dominating start, propelling the Grizzlies to a 12-1, five-inning Southern Sky Conference victory over Eagle Point Tuesday at The Yard.
Lewis Sebrell belted his first home run of the season and Nick Hall drew three of Ashland's 10 walks, as the Grizzlies (7-3, 3-1 SSC) needed just six hits to run away with their fourth straight win.
"We're playing better defense and our pitching is better," Ashland coach Don Senestraro said. "We made some adjustments coming back from Arizona "¦ and I think they've proven to be the right decisions and we're playing better now."
Eagle Point fell to 5-8, 2-2 in league play.
Kendall, who overpowered South Medford through five innings last Tuesday, issued a leadoff walk to Garrett Davis, who came around to score after a Grizzly error. But Kendall was lights out after that, overcoming 15 mph wind gusts and temperatures in the 40s to improve to 2-0.
Counting two short relief appearances, Kendall has not allowed an earned run in his last 12 innings on the mound.
"At the very beginning it was kind of hard to get used to the mound because it felt a little soft and the wind was pretty cold," Kendall said. "I was struggling, then once I got in the dugout all my teammates picked me up because that's our thing — we try and pick people up after mistakes. I felt really good after that because I knew my team was behind me."
The Grizzlies took advantage of two Eagle errors to take a 2-1 lead into the second, but were held in check by Eagle Point starter Brian Smith over the next two innings. That changed in the fourth, when three defensive miscues doomed the Eagles' shot at the upset.
It started when Lucas Stone reached on a dropped third strike and continued four batters later when Hall reached on shortstop Garrett Davis' fielding error with two outs and runners on second and third. Stone scored on the play and up came Sebrell, who watched the first pitch go by before hammering Smith's second offering over the fence in left-center.
Garrett Tygerson followed with a double to right-center and was singled home by Kendall.
Sebrell was the only Ashland hitter with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-3 with four RBIs while scoring twice. Tygerson was 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.
"Last year we all played as a team together and I feel like we're starting to get that now," Tygerson said.
The Grizzlies put the game away by scoring five more runs on just one hit in the fifth. The highlight was Kealii Cecil's RBI single, which gave Ashland an 11-1 lead. The rest of the inning was ugly. Two runs scored on a passed ball and a fielder's choice and two more on bases-loaded walks issued to Sebrell and Stone, as Eagle Point reliever Derek Tuttle struggled to find the plate while walking five of the nine Grizzlies he faced.
Kendall, meanwhile, was on cruise control after his first-inning struggles. He struck out the side in the second and retired eight straight Eagles before Brandon Hauser snapped the streak with a bloop single with one out in the fourth.
Kendall finished with a bang, overpowering Mylen Varner and Davis to end the game early by the 10-run mercy rule.
"Ian's got tremendous stuff — he's probably got the best stuff on our staff," Senestraro said. "He started off a little slow but as he picked up his tempo "¦ I think it gave us a boost on the offensive end. He threw OK today, but he can throw better than that.
"He's got four pitches that are lights out. He can be a shut-down pitcher that can shut down anybody in the state."
Ashland 200 55 — 12 6 1
Eagle Point 100 00 — 1 2 4
Kendall and L. Sebrell; Smith, Tuttle (5) and Hodgkins. W — Kendall (2-0). L — Smith (1-3). 2B — A: Tygerson. HR — A: L. Sebrell (1). SB — EP: Davis 2. E — A: Hall; EP: Davis 2, Varner, Smith.
Sports editor Joe Zavala can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or email@example.com