Michael R. Teets
JOHNSTOWN — Ashley American Legion Post 518 has won games with its pitching, offense and defense this season, but put their best effort of the season together in all phases Wednesday night.
Ashley scored seven times in the second inning, received outstanding pitching from three players and played an errorless game en route to an 11-1 victory over the Johnstown Post 254 Hawks at Johnstown-Monroe High School.
It was the pitching that stood out. Buckeye Valley grad Marcus Caplin started and worked two perfect innings with two strikeouts, and Gahanna Christian grad Josh Badal, making his first appearance of the season on the hill, earned the win, allowing just one run, one hit and one walk while striking out five. Liberty grad Blake Hampshire then closed out the game with a perfect inning of relief.
Ashley’s offense, meanwhile, was as patient as it’s been all season. Post 518 scored its seven second-inning runs on five hits, four walks and a hit batsman.
Buckeye Valley’s A.J. Veach opened the inning with a double to the wall in left center field and took third when Big Walnut grad and former Hawk Chad Townley singled to center.
Consecutive walks to Olentangy grad Chad Nugen and Buckeye Valley’s Kyle Whetro forced Veach home, and Liberty’s Christian Watson was hit by a pitch, sending Townley in with the second run. Gahanna Christian grad Drew Martindale drew yet another walk to force Nugen home and knock out Johnstown (0-5) starter Eric Noe.
Big Walnut grad Joe Curran greeted Hawk reliever Nic Walker with an RBI single up the middle, scoring Whetro, and Liberty grad Jimmy Waterwash singled up the middle to drive in both Watson and Martindale, all with no outs in the inning.
An infield fly ended that string, but after a wild pitch moved Curran and Waterwash up a base each, Veach loaded the bases with another walk, and Townley beat out a single on the infield, allowing Curran to score.
Badal opened the fourth allowing the first Johnstown base runner on a walk, and a pair of wild pitches moved that runner, Chris McLain, to third. But the young right-hander battled back, getting the Hawks’ Luke Rice and Josh Kirkpatrick on called third strikes, and fanning Walker on four pitches to end the inning.
But the combined no-hitter vanished on one swing in the fifth, when Johnstown’s Harrison Johnson belted a one-out solo homer down the left field line, the only run and hit off Ashley pitching.
Badal came right back, however, fanning the Hawks’ Bailey Duncan and getting Johnstown’s Chase Booker looking at strike three to end the fifth.
Ashley closed things out in the sixth. Martindale hustled out a bunt single to open the inning and stole second, but after Curran drew a four-pitch walk, a lineout and long fly out nearly ended the frame.
Veach, however, drew a two-out walk to load the bases, and Townley reached second on a throwing error, allowing Martindale and Curran to score. Olentangy’s Griffin Binkley then singled to right-center to score Veach and Townley, and took second on a fielding error in center field.
Waterwash had his double, single and two RBIs and Townley two singles and one RBI to lead Ashley’s offense. Veach finished with his leadoff double in the second, Binkley added his two-run single in the sixth, while Martindale and Curran had a single and one RBI each. Whetro and Watson also drove in one run.
Noe took the loss for the Hawks, giving up six earned runs on three hits, three walks and one hit batter with one strikeout in an inning plus.
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