The Ashland Grizzlies affirmed their spot atop the Southern Sky Conference baseball standings by pounding the Crater Comets 14-1 in five innings at North Mountain Park Tuesday.

The Ashland Grizzlies affirmed their spot atop the Southern Sky Conference baseball standings by pounding the Crater Comets 14-1 in five innings at North Mountain Park Tuesday.

Ashland belted three home runs in the first two innings while Crater had four errors and only three hits, as the second-ranked Grizzlies (10-3, 6-1 SSC) avenged a 4-1 loss to the ninth-ranked Comets (9-7, 4-2) on April 3.

The win was Ashland's seventh straight, including four in a row that ended after five innings by the 10-run mercy rule.

Crater scored one run in the first inning but Ashland starter Ian Kendall settled in after that, allowing one hit after the first inning while helping his own cause by blasting a pair of homers.

"I didn't feel that strong on the mound toady but our defense played well," Kendall said. "I was able to get them to hit some ground balls and get some key outs."

Kendall walked Crater leadoff batter Bruce Crawford, who scored after two slow-rolling infield singles to give Crater a quick 1-0 lead.

"I thought the only pitch (Kendall) was struggling with was his fastball," Ashland coach Don Senestraro said. "We made an adjustment to keep it over the inside of the zone and then his performance was outstanding."

Ashland's bats were ignited in the first inning by Charlie Sebrell, whose lead-off single led to the Grizzlies' first run after a walk and a throwing error.

"I felt good," said Sebrell, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI while scoring twice. "I was just trying to go with the pitches being thrown and what the pitcher was giving me."

Kendall contributed to the Grizzlies' big first inning with a three-run jack that put Ashland ahead to stay, 4-1.

Ashland all but put the game away with a dominant second inning. First, Kendall struck out two Comets en route to his first of three straight scoreless innings. Then, in the bottom of the frame, Ashland put together a five-run rally.

Junior shortstop Nick Hall jump-started the Grizzlies' offense by going 1-for-2 with a two-run homer, while Kendall was 3-for-4 and added a double to go with his home run. Senior catcher Lewis Sebrell also had a double for Ashland.

Ashland second baseman Hayden Miller went 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the fourth and later scored with a bases-loaded fielder's choice to provide the Grizzlies wiht their final margin of victory.

Kendall said his big day at the plate was the result of focused practices.

"I was just trying to hit the ball hard and help out the team," Kendall said. "I've worked hard with the coaches on hitting the top of the ball lately because I had been getting under it."

"Ever since the last Crater game we have refocused," Senestraro said. "We've been working really hard at practice, even dedicating entire practices to hitting."

Ashland piled on three more runs in the bottom of the third to go up 12-1.

As the Grizzlies continued to build their lead, Kendall's dominance made any comeback attempt seem impossible. He had two more strikeouts in the fourth inning and finished with five.

Zack Zelecki came into relieve Crater starting pitcher Justen Morgan in the fourth, but by then the outcome was decided.

Charlie Sebrell took the mound in the fifth to close the game for Ashland, striking out one and not allowing a hit from the Crater batters.

"Ian pitched a really good game." Sebrell said. "I asked the coach if I could get some work to keep my arm fresh and work on some pitches."

The lopsided margin was in stark contrast to the last meeting between the SSC title contenders. In that one, Crater starter Craig Kathol held the Grizzlies to one run on seven hits while striking out eight.

Another win by the Comets would have given them a 2-0 lead in the four-game season series.

"It was a must-win game," Senestraro said. "We came out with a lot of energy and played hard," Senestraro said. "We had to protect our home field advantage."

Crater returns home to play Mazama Saturday while Ashland faces Eagle Point at home Thursday.

"Our goal now is to beat Eagle Point — they just beat Crater," Senestraro said. "We'll be here on Thursday and play the best game we can."

Crater 10 000 — 1 3 4

Ashland 4 532 — 14 13 0

Kendall, C. Sebrell (5) and L. Sebrell; Morgan, Zelecki (4) and Kathol. W — Kendall (3-0). L — Morgan. 2B — L. Sebrell, Kendall. HR — Kendall (2), Hall (1).