Clay's Kaleb Kuzma bobbles the ball as Ashland's Brock Landrum is safe at second in the second inning of a regional semifinal game.
BOWLING GREEN -- In one game, Clay's baseball team got as many earned runs off of Ashland ace Adam Schaly as the talented lefty had allowed all season long.
The trouble was, Schaly had only allowed two in 56 innings coming in, and Clay's pair of runs was not enough in a 5-2 loss Thursday night in a Division I regional baseball semifinal at Stellar Field.
Schaly got all the scoring he would need during a fortuitous top of the first inning when Eagles junior ace Jordan Grosjean was one strike away from a scoreless frame and instead wound up with a 4-0 deficit.
Ashland (23-4) got a leadoff walk from Aric Harris, and a one-out single from Schaly before the Arrows' Derek Ward fouled off two two-strike pitches and lined a single to left. An elusive slide by Harris enabled him to score ahead of Tyler Brown's throw home.
That opened the door to what became a pivotal four-run inning.
Ashland's Zach Bernhard fouled off a two-strike pitch before delivering a two-run single to center, Brock Landrum added a single to send Bernhard to third, and Bernhard came home on a fielding error by Clay second baseman J.J. Miller.
"That's baseball," Clay coach Garry Isbell said. "A game of inches. You take away the first inning and, after that, Ross Achter kind of shut them down. It was a 2-1 ball game.
Clay's J.J. Miller forces out Ashland's Zach Bernhard but can't turn the double play.
"Jordan was hanging his offspeed [pitches] today. Once you get to the regionals, it doesn't matter how hard you throw. Teams are going to be able to hit the ball. You've got to be able to work in all your pitches."
That was all Schaly (11-0) needed. He entered having allowed just two earned runs (five total) in 56 innings. His complete-game six-hitter, included nine strikeouts for a season total of 124.
"That [rally] was big because I was settled down before I even took the mound," Schaly said. "That was a good way to start the game."
Grosjean (5-2), who had won three of Clay's four tourney games, yielded a run in the third. The Arrows sandwiched two singles around a walk to chase the Eagles' right-handed ace.
Senior lefty Ross Achter relieved with two outs in the third inning, and blanked the Arrows over final 4⅓ innings. But it was too late for the Eagles (14-15), who managed only single runs in the second and fifth innings, and stranded nine runners.
The Eagles' Brett Jordan drew a walk in the second, moved up on Matt York's single to right, and scored on a wild pitch.
"It's always frustrating when you can't get 1-2-3 in an inning," Achter said of Clay falling behind. "Today, Jordan didn't have his stuff, and we didn't have the sticks behind him right away.
"We really needed to focus on piecing some hits together. Unlike our [tourney] run, we didn't [do that] at the right time."
Clay left the bases loaded without scoring in the fourth, and made it 5-2 in the fifth when Bryce Castilleja singled, stole second, and later scored on Grosjean's single to right.
The potential big inning died on a hit-and-run play when Clay's Ty McAtee ripped a liner to Ward, who stepped on first for a double play.
"They were pretty patient and I didn't have my stuff today," Schaly said of the Eagles, "so they were able to get the barrel on the ball more than I'm used to. But, we got the outs with the defense, so it didn't really matter."
"I'm super proud of the kids," Isbell said. "We turned everything around halfway through the season [after 2-9 start]. There's no doubt in my mind we deserved to be here.
"We had six hits and there were three balls that aren't up there on that scoreboard [as hits] that were just missiles for outs. Two of those three were with guys in scoring position. Once again, a game of inches."