Steen Fredrickson did all he could to help the Ashland High baseball team push Class 6A powerhouse North Medford on Friday.
But the Grizzlies couldn't overcome a four-error day by their defense, and the Black Tornado received a strong tag-team pitching performance out of starter Jordan Ragan and Colton Westfall to pull out a 6-1 nonleague win at North Mountain Park.
Fredrickson held North Medford, ranked fourth in the latest 6A coaches poll, to six hits in five innings, but the visitors made the most of those hits, manufacturing five runs, only three of which were earned.
Recap: North Medford pitchers Jordan Ragan and Colton Westfall combine for a six-hitter as Ashland managed only one unearned run with 10 strikeouts.
Up next: Ashland at Klamath Union, noon today (doubleheader).
"If we don't show up ready to play and do the simple things in baseball — catch and throw — that's what's going to happen," Ashland coach John Wallace said. "You can't give good teams free bases and extra outs and that's what we did today."
Jordan Pond led the way for the Tornado, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs from the No. 7 hole.
Fredrickson was 2-for-4 to lead Ashland, which stranded 11 baserunners. He also pitched well enough to hold most teams in check, mixing an effective curve with a fastball that topped out at 86 miles per hour.
But "¦ the errors.
North (17-4) took advantage of two Ashland miscues to pull ahead to stay in the first, with Pond's two-run single through the left side of the infield giving the Tornado a 3-0 lead.
Ashland had plenty of chances to catch up, but couldn't.
In the bottom of the first, the Grizzlies scored their only run of the game on a bases-loaded strikeout — Ragan's nasty curve bounced away from North Medford catcher Austin Zavala, allowing Eric Carlson to score from third.
Ragan ended the threat moments later, however, striking out Jerry Carroll on four pitches to leave the bases juiced.
That became a frustrating, running theme for the Grizzlies (15-5), who also left the bases loaded in the third and sixth — both rallies were killed by inning-ending fly outs.
"You gotta credit those guys [Ragan and Westfall] for buckling down when the pressure was on them," Wallace said. "I think it just came down to they were tougher than us in those situations. They wanted it more than we did and we didn't show up ready to get the big hit. We kind of succumbed to them and facing good arms and good teams, that's what'll happen."
North Medford, meanwhile, made their hosts pay for their mistakes. In the first, it was a wild throw and a misplayed grounder. In the second, a wild throw to third during a rundown allowed Christian Gillis to score from second with two outs (Zavala struck out swinging moments later). In the fourth, another wild throw to third allowed North's Josh Berman to score.
Ragan and Westfall knew what to do with the lead. Ragan struck out five in the first three innings before giving way to Westfall, who held Ashland to one hit over the last four innings while striking out five.
Now, Ashland, which is now 3-1 against 6A teams, has six games remaining on its regular-season schedule starting with today's doubleheader at Klamath Union.
The Grizzlies are still a solid No. 2 in the 5A power rankings, meaning a strong finish should give Ashland a free pass through the play-in round and home-field advantage in the first round of the 16-team state tournament.
But following Ashland's second straight error-plagued performance — the Grizzlies committed six errors during Tuesday's eight-inning win over Hidden Valley — Wallace was more concerned with his team's ability to make routine plays than its chances at maintaining its position in the playoff race.
"It's a short period of time, but how we've been playing lately there are a lot of mistakes that we need to fix," he said. "Defensively, we need to get better. And we keep working on offensive approach and that's an ongoing process.
"We've got a lot of things to shore up because we know when we come to the playoffs we're going to facing teams like these 6A teams that we play. We've got to have a better mindset to make a run here in the playoffs."
North Medford 310 101 0 — 6 8 1
Ashland 100 000 0 — 1 6 4
Ragan, Westfall (4) and Zavala; Fredrickson, Hulick (6), Milgram (7) and Glick. W — Westfall (8-2). L — Fredrickson (5-3). 2B — NM: Fowler; A: Carlson, Sanderson.