Lother, Red Devils roll past Tomcats

Apr. 19—ASHLAND — Alumni Field welcomed two teams who were searching for wins.

Thursday night's game started with both pitchers trying to find the strike zone.

It quickly took a turn for the better after a 25-minute opening inning. Avery Lother gave Russell plenty of solid relief, hurling five scoreless innings in a 7-2 Red Devils victory over Ashland.

"He's been outstanding all year," Russell coach Tim Rice said. "His numbers resemble a video game. He throws strikes. He can throw several pitches in any count, at any time and keeps hitters offbalanced. He did that tonight. He kept his pitch count down. We were going to let him finish but then you started to see pitches up. It was his longest outing of the year."

Rice said Lother has been that middle reliever that the team needed in certain situations and can quell an opponent's momentum. It showed again against the Tomcats. He struck out eight batters over five and two-thirds innings.

The junior picked up his first win of the season. Russell collected its fifth win and Rice feels two straight rivalry victories have shown what his team is capable of in the second half of the season. The Red Devils have eight one-run losses.

"I hope (these wins) carry over," Rice said, "and they continue to build on the way we have been playing. Our record doesn't indicate how good our team is. We have played teams ranked in the top 25. ... This is a good ballclub. They are scrappy, they play hard and when we start to swing it, we are going to be a team that people will not want to play."

Russell put the ball in play in its final at-bat. Unfortunately, Ashland had trouble fielding it. Three errors led to three Red Devil runs. Caden Mitchell and Caden Criswell collected singles in the frame but the Tomcats couldn't overcome seven miscues in the contest.

Ashland coach Shane Marushi sees the effort from his team. The Tomcats won two of the last three games coming in but as the team builds experience, it will lead to better execution.

"Everybody knows we are young," Marushi said. "At the end of the day, how long can you say that? I thought we gave good effort in the Boyd County game. I thought coming into tonight we would carry that confidence over. We just weren't good tonight. Russell beat us in every phase of the game. Pitching, defense, two-strike and two-out hitting. We are young but we still have to execute."

Jayden Frasure had a sacrifice fly that scored a run in the third and the Red Devils extended their lead in the fourth frame after a fielding error.

Russell (5-15) opened the game with three straight singles. Frasure forced a bases-loaded walk and an infield single from Jared Whitt put the Red Devils up 2-0.

"I felt we won in all facets of the game," Rice said. "I felt that the score was more lopsided than it was and that's a credit to Ashland. We had base runners all night. They made pitches and got out of it. ... We finally broke it open in the seventh inning. With Lother on the mound, we just felt comfortable."

Ashland equaled that output in the bottom of the frame with the bases juiced. A free pass and a hit by pitch scored two runs to tie the game.

Marushi stuck with his starting pitcher Zane Ingram after a tough first inning. He battled back to put in a solid night of work.

"He didn't have his best stuff," Marushi said. "He's had struggles with his command a little bit. But he battled and hung in there. A couple of those innings, we set him up and didn't make plays. It goes back to your pitcher having to reset and go through that. We don't have the offense to give away outs. We are not built to come from behind. We have to play for every out."

Elijah Hankins scored twice for the Red Devils. Whitt was 2 for 3 at the plate.

RUSSELL 201 100 3 — 7 12 1

ASHLAND 200 000 0 — 2 3 7

Pennington, Lother (1), Anchetta (7) and Whitt; Ingram, Church (5) and Marushi. W—Lother. L—Ingram.

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