Pilots sweep Central Point

The Ashland Pilots righted the ship Wednesday night with a doubleheader sweep of the Crater Comets.

The squad bounced back from a pair of losses to South Medford Monday night with a sixth-inning rally to win 5-3 in Game 1, and the Pilots (19-5, 15-4 Area 4) executed five dominant innings to enact the mercy rule in their 13-1 Game 2 victory.

Ashland got on the board early in first game. Charlie Sebrell scored on an Owen Baldrica sacrifice fly in the first inning. Sam Gaviglio followed with a double, and he was plated by a Luke Jannusch triple in the next at-bat.

Sebrell pitched well early and the Pilots held the lead until the fourth inning. With the score at 2-1, Crater's bats began to make some noise. Comet's Craig Kathol reached base on an error and the Pilots paid for it when Steven Ruvalcaba brought Kathol home with a triple. Ruvalcaba crossed the plate two batters later via a Brandon Stead single. The fourth would be Sebrell's last inning on the mound with the Crater (6-15, 5-11) advantage at 3-2.

Then the lightning came. A thunderstorm delay, which lasted more than 30 minutes, gave the Pilots a chance to take a deep breath. It paid off.

Ian Kendall-Reynolds pitched well in relief, retiring seven of his first eight batters. If that weren't enough, he also got it done at the plate.

A Comet error and a pair of pitcher Bruce Sanford walks loaded the bases with Pilots in the sixth. Kendall-Reynolds brought the winning run home with a two-run single. With runners on the corners, a Sebrell sac fly to right field plated the final run of the game to set the score at 5-3.

Crater threatened in the bottom of the seventh, but a spectacular diving catch by Casey Skolnik and good pitching from Sebrell kept the ball in the infield and wrapped up the win.

Game 2 was all Pilots from the start. Ashland pitcher Garrett Tygerson started strong, retiring the first seven Crater batters, striking out three. Tygerson helped himself out at the plate as well.

A Tygerson bases-loaded double scored the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the first. Danny Meza followed with what appeared to be a catchable pop-up to short center field. Five Comets circled the ball, but none of them could come up with the catch. The play cleared the bases and widened the early advantage to 4-0. Two Crater errors on one play allowed Meza to trot home and the first-inning damage was done, 5-0.

The Pilots continued to soar in the bottom of the second inning. Tygerson found himself with his second bases-loaded opportunity of the young game, and he drew a four-pitch walk to bring Baldrica home. It was then that Crater pitcher Johnny Wood was moved to first base for Ruvalcaba.

It never seemed to matter who was pitching for the Comets in the second game. The Pilots owned them all.

A Ruvalcaba wild pitch to Meza unloaded the bases by plating Gaviglio, and Meza hit a subsequent pitch to left-center to clear the bases for the second time of the game, bringing his RBI total to four. The Pilot lead by the end of the second was 9-0.

Tygerson would find himself up at the plate with the bases loaded for the third time in as many at-bats and innings. This time he faced the Comets' third pitcher of the game, Christian Massey, and he cashed in again with a two-run single that, in the end, scored three runs. An errant throw meant to nab a diving Max Gordon on the play slipped past the third baseman and Gordon made it home on the error. Massey would proceed to load the bases with a pair of walks and then bring Tygerson home with the third walk in a row.

Tygerson finished his gem of a game by facing only six batters in the fourth and fifth innings combined. The Comets went three-up, three-down in the fourth, and a fifth-inning single by Justin Morgan was erased by a double-play to end the game.

Tygerson pitched five innings and allowed only one run, two hits and a walk while striking out three Comets. At the plate, he went 2-for-3 with five RBIs and a walk. Tygerson credited his teammates for his elevated play.

"I think the dugout had a lot to do with it," Tygerson said. "We really started cheering on in the second game. We all played really well."

The Pilots scored their 13 runs on seven hits. Crater pitchers walked 10 Pilots in the game and three Pilots reached base by error.

Pilots coach Don Senestraro said that Monday's performance, which resulted in a pair of losses to South Medford, was an aberration, and that he has come to expect good play from his squad.

"This is the type of ball we've been playing all year," Senestraro said. "We've had great pitching all year. South is a great team. Maybe they just took it to us that day. I think we're better than that. That's why I wasn't worried Monday. I knew we'd come out and play today. We've got a good team. We can hit, we can pitch and we play defense, and those are three important things to playing good baseball."

With his team having its best season in years, Senestraro said his players' commitment to the program has allowed them to succeed.

"These kids have worked hard," he said. "Some of these kids have been hitting since last November. They believe in the coaching staff and they believe in themselves. These kids have put a lot of hard work in and they're only going to get better. There's a lot of good, talented young kids on this team."

The Pilots' next doubleheader will be Monday night when they travel to meet Grants Pass.

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