fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Fun in the sun

Paul Westhelle takes great pride in Ashland's ability to manufacture runs with bunts and timely situational hitting. But on Tuesday, the Grizzlies' head coach was happy to trade small ball for a little hard ball.

Ashland's top four batters combined for 10 hits, including a double and a triple by leadoff hitter Taylor Humphrey, as the Grizzlies used a 13-hit explosion to wallop South Medford 13-3 in six innings in a nonconference ambush at North Mountain Park.

Evan Westhelle-Grant was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Billy Hansen was 3-for-4 with one RBI and Humphrey was 2-for-4 with four runs scored and three RBIs, as the Grizzlies (11-9) continued a late-season surge by winning for the fifth time in their last six games.

"I think top to bottom in our lineup we have a bunch of guys with really good swings," Westhelle said of Grizz batters, who were issued nine walks. "I think a little bit of it's been maturity and confidence. And I told the guys that I think a lot of guys hitting in the middle and bottom of this order could hit for a lot of teams in the top of the order. They just gotta believe in themselves and swing the bats, and that's what they did today."

Ashland led 2-1 before tacking on three insurance runs in the fourth — the first on Humphrey's RBI double and the other two on a wild pitch that caromed away from South Medford catcher Jack Walker, allowing Humphrey to motor home all the way from second.

South Medford (8-14) came back with two runs of its own in the top of the fifth, cutting the lead to 5-3. But the Grizzlies blew the game open in the bottom of the inning, batting through the order with three hits, four walks and a sacrifice fly by Cory Milgram. Westhelle-Grant came through with the key hit, delivering a line drive single up the middle with two outs to bring home Ryan Bottimore and Humphrey. That gave Ashland an 8-3 lead. Ethan Schlecht, who finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, followed with an RBI single to left, and the rout was on.

"I've known all season that we're really capable of coming together and hitting really well as a team," Humphrey said.

Added Westhelle-Grant: "I think it's definitely given us our confidence back."

The Grizzlies tacked on four more in the sixth to end the game early by the 10-run mercy rule. Humphrey's triple — an opposite field drive down the right-field line — scored two, and Schlecht and Hansen added run-scoring singles.

Junior lefty Jack Carroll started on the mound for Ashland but didn't factor into the decision after getting pulled with nobody out and two on in the third. Freshman righty Steen Fredrickson quickly cleaned up the mess. Wielding a nasty curve, Fredrickson struck out Pat Alexander looking, induced a one-pitch fly-out and struck out Austin White to end the threat.

Schlecht took the mound in the fifth to help Fredrickson, who was credited with the win, out of another jam (thanks in part to an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play), and staff ace Jamie Flynn pitched a 1-2-3 sixth.

The fifth-inning double play came with one out and the bases loaded, allowing Ashland to keep a two-run lead.

"I think one of the lessons there is that defense gives you offensive energy," Westhelle said, pointing out that the Grizzlies' rallied for four runs in the bottom of the inning.

The offensive explosion continues a trend that could raise Ashland's postseason expectations. After struggling to drive home baserunners in scoring position through the first half of the season, the Grizzlies have scored 38 runs in their last six games. Their next chance to continue that surge will also be one of their toughest tests of the season — Saturday against 6A power Crater, which entered Tuesday ranked No. 4 in the state.

"I think they trusted their approach and they didn't swing at a bunch of crap," Westhelle said. "Their pitchers threw 154 pitches against us because we didn't swing at bad stuff early in the count. And it wasn't because we were passive, we just didn't get good pitches to hit."

South Medford 010 020 — 3 6 0

Ashland 101 344 — 13 13 1

Eastman, Cooney (4), Alexander (5) and Walker; Carroll, Fredrickson (3), Schlecht (5), Flynn (6) and Westhelle, Glick (5). W — Fredrickson. L — Eastman. 2B — A: Humphrey, Carlson. 3B — A: Humphrey.