Pilots make it seven in a row, then lose to Central Pt.

Playing their fourth doubleheader in six days, the Ashland Pilots finally ran out of gas.

Central Point scored six runs in the third inning to go up 9-1 then held on to ruin Ashland's bid at a perfect six-day stretch Sunday at Anhorn Field in Central Point.

The Pilots won the opener 12-1 in six innings to make it seven wins in a row before CP snapped that streak with a 9-6 victory in the nightcap.

Ashland ace Lucas Stone earned the complete-game victory in Game 1, holding Central Point to five hits while striking out four and walking three. But the home team took advantage of three errors by the Pilots in Game 2 to earn the split.

"I was impressed that the guys battled back and chipped away," Ashland coach Josh Leedy said of the second game. "They didn't roll over there, they were competitive the whole way."

The loss was the lone blemish for the Pilots in a week that included sweeps of Eagle Point (Tuesday), Central Point (Wednesday) and the Grants Pass Diggers (Thursday).

"Honestly, it was better than I expected," said Leedy, whose team improved to 28-5, including 21-5 in Zone 4 south play. "We played some of our best baseball this week against Grants Pass and the first game (Sunday) was some of our best ball defensively. That's what you want to be doing going into the postseason."

Ashland has eight games left in the regular season, including six league games, starting Wednesday against Eagle Point.

Sunday's opener was a business as usual affair for the Pilots, who scored six runs on six hits in the sixth inning to end the game early by the 10-run mercy rule. Seven Pilots had multiple hits, including three who tallied three hits apiece — AJ Adams was 3-for-3 with three runs scored, Luke Baldrica was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and one run scored and Brent Hegdahl was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and one run scored. Also giving the Ashland offense a boost was Kealii Cecil, who was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and one run scored.

Stone "didn't have his best stuff," according to Leedy, but was good enough to improve to 8-0.

"He made pitches when he had to," Leedy said.

In Game 2, Central Point jumped on Ashland starting pitcher Sam Taylor and reliever Max Anderson before Brady Thomas held the home team hitless over the last three innings.

Ashland battled back to within striking distance with a four-run fifth inning and brought the tying run to the plate in both the sixth and seventh.

Adams was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored, Stone was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored and Taylor Humphrey was 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run scored.

Taylor, who was tagged with the loss, allowed seven runs, four earned, on four hits in 2 2/3 innings. He fell to 1-1. Anderson gave up two earned runs on two hits before getting the last out of the third inning.

Thomas struck out three without a walk in three solid innings of relief work.

Ashland is assured of a spot in the state tournament, but Leedy isn't sure where the Pilots stand in the race to grab the No. 1 seed. The first-year coach isn't worried.

"I'm kind of in the dark," he said. "I like it better this way so we don't scoreboard watch. If we get caught up in that it could wreak complacency. So, I'd rather take care of what we can control."


Ashland 102 306 — 12 18 0

Central Pt. 100 000 — 1 5 3

Stone and Adams. Zelecki. W — Stone (8-0). L — Zelecki. 2B — A: Cecil; CP: Zelecki.


Ashland 001 140 0 — 6 7 3

Central Pt. 306 000 x — 9 5 1

Taylor, Anderson (3), Thomas (4) and Adams. Cortez, Tracy (5). W — Cortez. L — Taylor (1-1). 2B — A: Stone 2; CP: Tracy.

Sports editor Joe Zavala can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or joe.zavala@dailytidings.com

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