Casey Clark didn't finish what he started.
Ashland National's pitcher is nevertheless a main reason his team is still playing. Clark struck out 10 to go with his two hits and two runs scored in an 8-6 win over Lewis County in the Junior League District 6 tournament Tuesday at Lewis County Middle School.
Which means, a third meeting for the title at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Clark, a sophomore-to-be at Ashland, threw 97 pitches over 6 1/3 innings. He thought he had a lot for which to atone — he was hitless in four at-bats in a 9-5 loss to Lewis County last week.
“I was mad because we didn't play as a team,” Clark said. “We should've won. I take every game personally.”
Whatever anger the left-handed Clark had, he threw it at Lewis County. He struck out five of the first six hitters he faced.
“My fastball was working extremely well,” Clark said. “I was trying to throw (the curveball) down the middle so it would break to the inside.”
As Lewis County coach David Skidmore gulped copious amounts of water from a cooler, he thought his team was often too patient.
“We're looking at the first pitch strike, then looking at the third strike,” Skidmore said. “... We're growing as ateam. I have one, two, three kids that weren't on the middle school team.
“I see growth in all of them.”
After the Lewis County loss, Ashland coach Joe Duvall told his team to simply play their own positions. Tuesday, he saw a lot that pleased him: second baseman Marcus Mullen had two singles, and Jake Lewis' single drove in two of four fifth-inning runs.
“We didn't give (Lewis County) much to play with,” Duvall said. “We went right at them.”
Lewis County took a 2-0 lead in the third inning because of two Ashland errors and left fielder Austin Egbert's infield single. Egbert's two-run double in the sixth led a four-run rally.
Ashland was equally befuddled in its first two at-bats because Taylor Skidmore (David's son) retired six straight.
Different story in the third — Ashland took a 3-2 lead on run-scoring singles from Clark and Mullen.
Mullen managed just one hit against Lewis County last week, but he rebounded with a double and two runs scored in a 12-2 five-inning win over Stan Spence. The difference — a talk with Duvall.
“Coach just told me to keep my hands back and wait for the ball; I was in front of it,” Mullen said. “I got base hits (Tuesday) when the team needed it.”
Hunter Sansom relieved Clark in the sixth and earned the save by allowing only Egbert's double and a walk in 1 1/3 innings.
“(Sansom) kept them off balance,” Duvall said. “He's got a good curveball. He's good at keeping them guessing.”
Bad base running twice cost Lewis County. In the fourth, shortstop Trenton Walker was caught between second and third, and Sansom picked off Seth Wallingford in the seventh.
Ashland has Sansom, Josh Bradley and Tanner Runyon available to pitch Thursday, and Lewis County has Walker, Austin Evans, Austin Rucker and Jalen Prater. Just don't ask Duvall about starting pitching.
“I really don't know yet, to tell you the truth,” Duvall said.
LEWIS CO. 002 004 0 — 6 5 3
A. NATIONAL 003 041 x — 8 10 3
Skidmore and Evans, Wallingford (6); Clark and Sansom (6) and Sansom, Webb (3). W—Clark. L—Skidmore. Sv—Sansom. 2B: Egbert (LC). 3B: Yates (LC).
Pitcher helps set up third, final meeting with Lewis
Casey Clark didn't finish what he started.
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