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Sluggish Pilots swept by Phoenix

Going on little practice and less rest, the Ashland Pilots — looked like a team in dire need of both Thursday.

Ashland's American Legion A baseball team was sluggish — and sloppy during a pair of Area 4 losses in its season-opening doubleheader — against Phoenix at sizzling North Mountain Park.

Phoenix trounced Ashland 7-4 in Game — and 8-2 in the — nightcap, as the Pilots struggled with fatigue and lack of concentration — only hours after a large portion of the team returned from the Gold Beach — football camp.

"We've got to compete harder," Pilots' first-year coach — Hank Munn said. "I hope they get some rest tonight and we come out and — compete tomorrow better, because I wasn't tremendously happy with the — effort tonight."

Game 1

In the opener, Ashland catcher Robby Bruce slapped a run-scoring — single in the bottom of the first to give the Pilots their first - and — what proved to be their last - lead of the day.

Back-to-back RBI singles by Chad Walker and Ryan Soriano — helped Phoenix (3-3 Area 4) score four runs in the second and turn the — tide.

Ashland cut the deficit to 4-3 on Griff Sollinger's two-RBI — single to left in the bottom of the third, but left two runners stranded — and never got over the hump.

Phoenix added two insurance runs on Walker's bases-loaded — single in the sixth and another thanks

to three walks and a hit batsmen in the seventh.

Ashland, meanwhile, left two runners stranded in both — the fifth and seventh innings, and ran itself out of the sixth when the — speedy Aaron Decker was caught stealing second.

"About six of us just got back from football camp, so — we've been running around at the beach on the sand for five, six days — now and we're all just really tired," said Bruce, who arrived back in — Ashland at about noon for the — p.m. opener. "We could definitely, absolutely, — 100 percent be .500. Today, we were just half-dead."

Andrew Del Carlo started for Ashland and went 5 2/3 innings — before Sollinger took over. Del Carlo (0-1) struck out four, walked five — and allowed seven hits and two earned runs.

Kraig Strong (1-1), a side-arm throwing right-hander, — went the distance for Phoenix and held the Pilots to five hits and three — earned runs. He struck out five and walked five.

Game 2

The second game was more of the same, as Ashland gave — up three runs (two unearned) in the top of the first, scored once in the — bottom half, then was held scoreless until the sixth, when it was too — late.

This time, it was Phoenix pitcher Josh Lorton (1-1) who — smothered the Pilot offense. Relying mostly on a hard-cutting curve ball, — Lorton limited Ashland to two hits while striking out five in the complete-game — victory. He didn't allow an Ashland baserunner to advance past second — base between the second and sixth innings.

For the Pilots, Decker (0-1) started on the hill and allowed — seven hits and three earned runs before Aaron San Nicholas took over in — the sixth.

Phoenix scored an insurance run in the sixth thanks in — part to two Ashland errors and added two more in the seventh in a rally — that was centered around three walks and another Pilot error.

"I think it's just a matter of getting these guys some — rest," Munn said. "They're worn out. They're dog tired."

Ashland's practice schedule leading up to its season-opener — was limited by player absences, a battle Munn expects to face all summer — long various sports camps swarm the Rogue Valley. The Pilots had just — one full practice in which they were able to take an infield before facing — Phoenix

Still, Munn says he has high expectations.

"I'm trying to develop them for the high school (season) — next year, obviously, and gets some kids some experience, but at the same — time I'm out here to win ball games," he said. "Realistically, I'd like — to have a .500 season. That's a good goal right now.


Phoenix 004 002 — - 7 6 0

Ashland 102 001 0 - 4 5 2

Strong and Harvey; Del Carlo, Sollinger (7) and Bruce. — W - Strong (1-1). L - Del Carlo (0-1). 2B - P: Walker; A: Goldberg.


Phoenix 300 201 2 - 8 10 3

Ashland 100 001 0 - 2 2 3

Lorton and West; Decker, San Nicholas (6) and Bruce. W — - Lorton (1-1). L - Decker (0-1).