Another Carroll appears ready to do some damage for the Ashland High baseball program, with both his arm and his bat.
Jesse Carroll, younger brother of former AHS star Jack Carroll and returning varsity player Jerry Carroll, had a huge day at the plate and showed off his lively right arm as well Tuesday, leading the Pilots to an Area 4 split against the Wolfpack at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
The youngest Carroll went 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs in Ashland's 12-2 Game 1 victory, then went 2-for-3 with a triple and a homer in the nightcap, which the Wolfpack won 6-5.
"Jesse's looking really good," Ashland coach John Wallace said. "He's a stud, he can play anywhere on the field and he's swinging a good bat right now. He had a very nice day, really carried our offense."
Carroll also tossed four innings in the nightcap and looked good doing it, holding the host team to one earned run with six strikeouts. But the sophomore-to-be was snake-bitten by three costly errors and ended up taking the loss thanks to four unearned runs.
Ashland jumped all over the Wolfpack, made up of players from five area high schools (Rogue River, Eagle Point, Cascade Christian, St. Mary's and Phoenix), in the opener, scoring six runs against two different pitchers in the first inning. Chris Buckley, another incoming sophomore at AHS, picked up the win after holding the Wolfpack to one earned run on four hits in three innings.
Carroll, Kyle Milgram and Frankie Mora did most of the damage for the Pilots (3-5), who scored six in the fifth to end the game early by the 10-run mercy rule. Milgram and Mora both were 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Wolfpack third baseman Will Weaver was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.
In the second game, Ashland scored in the third to take a shortlived 2-1 lead. The Wolfpack (4-2) answered by scoring two their half of the third and two more in the fourth to jump ahead for good, 5-2.
The home team's fourth-inning rally proved to be a back-breaker for Ashland, which was inches away from heading to the fifth down only one before a dropped third strike led to both runs. After Joe Johnson whiffed at Carroll's 1-2 curve in the dirt, Ashland catcher Jett Hamik threw the ball over Matt Flynn's head at first base. Weaver, who had a two-out single moments earlier, came around to score from first on the play while Johnson raced all the way around to third. Johnson then scored when a soft grounder to second was bobbled.
"That's the disappointing thing — if we take care of the baseball we had our guy on the mound who we wanted but we gave them too many free bases and that caught up to us," Wallace said. "It's something that has been killing us lately and we need to fix. But Jesse pitched well. We expect that out of him every time and he'll get right back out there. I know it's frustrating when the rest of your team isn't always picking you up and playing great defense behind you."
The Pilots cut the three-run lead to one with one swing of the bat by Carroll, who belted his second home run of the season in the sixth with brother Jerry at first following a leadoff single. Jesse Carroll's blast sailed over the wall in left. It was a rare mistake for Wolfpack pitcher Joe Hammonds, who struck out eight in the complete-game victory.
"(Hammonds) didn't throw as well as his first time out, but he threw well," Wolfpack coach John White said.
The Wolfpack loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth against Ashland reliever Shea Scott but scored only one run, which came home on a bases-loaded hit batsmen. Three clutch outs later, the Pilots had regained a little momentum.
Ashland's last gasp rally fizzled out when, with runners on first and third and one out, Jose Perez was caught in a rundown between first and second and was tagged out as Aaron Scott scored. That left nobody on and two out for Nick Sanderson, who waved at Hammonds' 2-2 fastball to end the game.
"We miscommunicated on what we were trying to do there," Wallace said of the double-steal disaster, "and it ended up making an out on the bases, which we never want to do. Not with (Sanderson) up in that situation. That was my fault for not making that clear enough and hopefully that won't happen again."
The split with the Wolfpack was only the start of a long week of baseball for the Pilots, who are scheduled to play eight games in five days. Next up is today's clash with Klamath Falls. The first game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at North Mountain Park.
Ashland 600 06 — 12 9 1
Wolfpack 011 00 — 2 5 2
Buckley, Clary (4) and McLennan; Sakraida, Botermans (1), Decker (5) and Mulholland. W — Buckley (1-0). L — Sakraida (0-1). 2B — A: Jes. Carroll 2, Mora.
Ashland 011 002 1 — 5 6 3
Wolfpack 102 201 x — 6 5 0
Jes. Carroll, Milgram (5), S. Scott (6) and Hamik, A. Scott (6); Hammonds and Wilson. W — Hammonds (2-0). L — Jes. Carroll. 3B — A: Jes. Carroll. HR — A: Jes. Carroll (2).
Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-776-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org.