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WIAA D2 baseball: Prescott on to sectional final

Prescott shortstop Peter Brookshaw and Jonah Anderson after Brookshaw ranged into left field for a fly ball against Ashland in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinals at West Salem. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Prescott senior Jake Block throws to pitcher Matthew Langer covering first base to secure the third out of the sixth inning against Ashland in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal Tuesday, June 6, at West Salem High School. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Prescott left fielder Jonah Anderson hits a single into center field to score two runs in the sixth inning against Ashland in the WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinals in West Salem. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

WEST SALEM -- Prescott is 21 outs away from playing in the state tournament.

The Cardinals earned a 9-4 victory over Ashland in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinals baseball game Tuesday, June 6, at West Salem High School.

Prescott advances to play again at 5 p.m. against the winner of the Adams-Friendship vs. West Salem game that started at 2 p.m.

There are disadvantages of being the visiting team in baseball games, but senior Luke Murphy pointed out that being able to get the lead early is one big advantage of being the visiting team.

“When you’re playing at this level of the tournament, games are usually two- or three-run games, so scoring first is really crucial,” Prescott coach Jeff Ryan said. “We were able to find a way to score some runs.”

In the second inning, the Cardinals found a way to scrape across the game’s first run. Jake Block reached on a dropped third strike. Pinch-runner Cody Rohl was bunted over by Noah Matzek and Joe Roosen drove him in with two outs to take a 1-0 lead.

Roosen had two hits and drove in three runs.

“If we get up on the other team it puts a lot of pressure on the other team,” Murphy said.

“Especially them, with their really good pitcher, we put the pressure on him.”

The Cardinals did so against the hardest-throwing pitcher they had seen all season in the first game Tuesday.

“His fastball got on you way faster (than any other pitchers they’d seen),” senior Luke Murphy said. “If he threw you a fastball up or in, you had to get your hands through way faster.”

Another crucial key for Prescott was to battle back when the Oredockers scored three runs in the fifth inning. Ashland did all of its damage with two outs.

Ryan went and replaced Andy Rozmiarek with sophomore Matt Langer with the bases loaded. Langer threw three pitches and got out of the inning holding onto a 6-4 lead.

The sophomore coming up clutch in a key spot for the Cardinals wasn’t surprising to Ryan.

“When you play a lot as a freshman and you become a sophomore, you’re a grizzled veteran,” Ryan said. “Matt has played in a lot of tight ball games the last couple of years.”

Prescott answered Ashland’s big inning with three more runs of their own to stretch the lead out to 9-4, where it would stay.

Ashland thought it could neutralize Prescott junior Peter Brookshaw, who came into the game already as the school’s all-time leader in doubles. Brookshaw had a single in the first inning and tripled in the third inning to score Murphy and give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

“I really kind of scratch my head at opposing coaches -- other than Ellsworth -- who keep pitching to him,” Ryan said.

Allowing Brookshaw to hurt the Oredockers early helped Prescott dip into the Ashland bullpen.

“We knew that their relievers after their big starter had been giving up some runs,” Ryan said. “He struck a lot of guys out, but we put the ball in play and they gave us a few runs on shoddy defense.”

Murphy said there were a few different physical adjustments like getting the front foot down faster and starting the “trigger” earlier, but a mental approach had to be changed as well.

“We had to find the balance between being patient and not getting down in the count,” Murphy said. “If you get to two strikes it’s really hard to hit him because if you try to chase high, you aren’t hitting it.”