Cascade clamps down on Phoenix
Cascade Christian pitchers Ashton Moody and Owen Thompson left little wiggle room for Phoenix during nonleague baseball Tuesday at Lithia & Driveway Fields, combining for 11 strikeouts and only one walk to help the Challengers score a 7-0 triumph.
Moody pitched well in his third start of the season, allowing three hits with six strikeouts and one walk in five innings. Thompson came on and shut the door with one hit allowed in two innings of work with five strikeouts.
“Ashton’s been really consistent for us, which has been a huge piece for our club,” said first-year Challengers coach Kevin Shafer, “and Owen’s been as good as I’ve seen on the bump in my time as a coach in all three of his outings this year.”
“It’s just a matter of throwing strikes,” he added. “It’s something we’ve talked about and focused on in our preseason talks. We can’t defend walks, but if we make them swing it and put the ball in play, at least we have opportunities to get people out, and those guys have done that.”
Coming off a 10-day hiatus following a 12-1 win over Mt. Shasta, Phoenix (1-4) was able to advance a baserunner to third base in each of the first two innings but Cascade Christian (6-1) cut off any serious scoring opportunities thereafter.
In the first inning, Jackson Shilts walked and moved to third on a two-out single by Julius Bolstad, but Moody induced an inning-ending flyout.
The second inning saw Chance Sherrell single and eventually make his way to third on a groundout and an error. The Pirates, however, were thwarted when Moody recorded a strikeout and Cory Cunningham was caught trying to steal second base for the final out.
In the meantime, Cascade Christian took advantage of the limited opportunities it had against Bolstad with runs in the first and third innings to go up 2-0.
Cody Reece scored both runs for the Challengers, drawing walks in each inning before stolen bases put him in scoring position for RBI efforts by Thompson in each inning on a single and a double, respectively.
All told, Reece reached base in all four at-bats — advancing once on a dropped third strike — and scored four times thanks to four stolen bases. The senior shortstop has now scored 15 runs and stolen 13 bases in seven games.
“The thing that really helps our offense is Cody Reece,” said Shafer. “When you’ve got a guy like that who can do those things on the bases, it makes a huge difference in kind of extending your lineup and scoring opportunities.”
Cascade Christian finally broke the game open against the Class 4A Pirates with four runs in the fifth inning on four of the six hits allowed by Bolstad, who also struck out seven and walked four.
“(Bolstad) did a really good job early in the game,” said Shafer. “He did a pretty good job of mixing his pitches and location. But the second and third times through, the kids got a little more comfortable at-bats against him and his pitch count started getting up so he started to labor a little.”
With one out, Reece and Moody had consecutive singles to spark the fifth-inning outburst and Thompson was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Bolstad was able to make that work to his benefit with a strikeout of Austin Waits for the second out, but Triston Wallace came through with a two-run single to left-center and Liam Benade followed with a two-run double down the right field line.
“We’ve had a lot of strikeouts this season but not bad when it comes to runners in scoring position or eliminating scoring opportunities,” said Shafer. “We’ve been really good offensively on just those focused at-bats, those at-bats where it’s time to really grind out an at-bat to give yourself a run or get a rally kind of going.”
Dominic Crenshaw and Ryan Watts had the only other singles for Phoenix, which saw 12 straight batters record outs between Crenshaw’s leadoff single in the third and Watts’ leadoff single in the seventh. The final hit was followed by three straight strikeouts.
Bolstad, Wolowicz (6) and Shilts; A. Moody, Thompson (6) and Thompson, Wallace (6). W — A. Moody. L — Bolstad. 2B — CC: Thompson, Benade.
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