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Comets stay hot

ASHLAND — Jacob Swartwout and Jake Ireland combined to hold the Ashland baseball team to one run and Crater took advantage of five Ashland errors to take the first game in a key Midwestern League series, 6-1, Tuesday at North Mountain Park.

Swartwout allowed one run on three hits through the first four innings before Ireland shut out the Grizzlies the rest of the way, leading the Comets (13-5, 9-1 MWL) to their ninth straight victory and pulling them into a tie with Marist (16-3, 10-2) atop the league standings.

"Any time you can go on the road and pick up a league win to open up a series, it's big," Crater coach Jay Campbell said.

The two teams will square off again in a doubleheader Saturday at Anhorn Field in Central Point.

Ashland starter Nick Sanderson held Crater to two runs, both unearned, through five innings, but with Caleb Bell on the mound to start the sixth, Ashland committed three key errors as the Comets scored four runs to blow the game open.

Neil Bastendorff, Shay Hall and Jace Godley each delivered RBI singles during the rally. Godley was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, including a run-scoring double in the second.

Crater took the lead for good in the fifth when Godley reached on an error, advanced to third on two balks by Sanderson and scored on a wild pitch.

“That definitely takes some wind out of your sails when you give them a run that late in the game,” Ashland coach Nick Hall said.

Ashland (13-5, 8-5) scored first when Peyton Fuller ripped a double to score Jesse Carroll from second in the bottom of the first, but struggled with runners in scoring position the rest of the way and left 10 runners on base.

Sanderson was 2-for-4 and Carroll 1-for-1 with three walks.

The Grizzlies were playing their first game without leadoff hitter and center fielder TarQuin Daley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in a car accident Monday.

“TarQuin’s a huge part of this team and a leader and a guy who brings toughness and a certain energy to his game when he’s out there,” Hall said. “He’s one of those guys who’s really quiet, but his presence is really noticeable when he’s out there. Just on the baseball side he brings a lot to us, and obviously these guys are all close friends — guys were at the hospital late last night.”

The Comets are hot entering the weekend twin bill.

"We are just trying to play good baseball and peak at the right time, and today was a good step in the right direction," Campbell said. "I think we've played with good energy and have made plays when we've needed to. We're just trying to get better every day."

Hall said the Grizzlies are focused on finishing the season strong in order to earn home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs and possibly more.

“I think there’s still a lot to play for when you look at where we are in the conference,” he said. “One of our goals was to bring playoff baseball back to Ashland and that’s still on the table. And it’s going to take a little bit of inner toughness to bounce back but our goals are still in sight.”

Crater;010;014;0;—;6;6;2

Ashland;100;000;0;—;1;5;5

Swartwout, Ireland (5) and Bartlett; Sanderson, Bell (6), Buckley (7) and Hamik. W — Ireland (6-0). L — Sanderson. 2B — C: Godley; A: Fuller.

Reach Joe Zavala at 541-821-0829 or jzavala@dailytidings.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99

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Crater junior starting pitcher Jacob Swartwout works against Ashland Tuesday at North Mountain Park. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.
Crater senior Hayden Deuel beats out the throw to second base and the reach of Ashland junior infielder Shey Scott during their Midwestern League baseball game Tuesday at North Mountain Park. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.