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Ashton ousts Mazomanie

 

August 10, 2017

Mary Langenfeld

Justin Miller and Ashton's Home Talent League team edged Mazomanie, 2-1, on Sunday.

It was the ultimate battle of wills on the diamond, two starting pitchers displaying grit, toughness, and determination.

Ashton's Derrick Rothwell and Mazomanie's Carter Howard dueled on the mound in the hopes of helping their respective Home Talent League teams advance in the playoffs.

Unfortunately for one team, though, the road must come to an end.

Mitch Howard scored the go-ahead run for Mazomanie and the visiting Mustangs escaped Ashton with a 2-1 victory in the first round of the Northern Section's HTL playoffs Sunday.

The storyline for the game was the performances of the starting pitchers. The hard-throwing Rothwell overpowered many of the Mustangs hitters he faced, and Howard was effective in changing speeds and keeping Ashton's hitters off balance.

Rothwell was the tough luck loser for Ashton, going the distance and allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits, while striking out 10 on a whopping 154 pitches.

"Just a tough loss," Rothwell said. "Have to tip your caps to (Mazo's) pitching and defense. They brought it today."

Ashton manager Dave Adler was impressed with Rothwell's performance in the loss.

"He had a really good outing, but he did fall behind a lot of batters. That's when you throw a lot of pitches," Adler said. "He battled back and did a good job."

Howard notched the win for Mazomanie, going the distance and allowing one earned run on four hits, while striking out 10 on 130 pitches.

"I got everything working early. That really helps me get some short innings," Howard said. "I kept my pitch count where I wanted to. It was a little high, but it all worked out."

Mazomanie coach Terry Doyle spoke highly of Howard.

"(Carter) was in command with all of his pitches pretty much the whole day," Doyle said. "He never gets flustered. He's a fierce competitor. He gets after every batter, he's going to give you whatever he's got. He did today. He did an excellent job."

Ashton came into the game hitting .282 as a team, but was only able to manage four hits off Howard. Out of 35 Ashton players to step to the plate, Howard threw first-pitch strikes to 24 batters.

"(Howard) did a great job," Adler said. "He got ahead of guys, and our guys were chasing his curveball. It's what made him effective."

The Mustangs came in as one of the hottest teams in the league. After starting the year 1-7, Mazomanie went 7-1 to finish the season and now owns a playoff win.

"It's young kids believing in each other," Doyle said of the Mustangs' recent success. "They're learning how to play, relying on their teammates and playing good ball."

Ashton got on the board first, plating a run in the third inning. Kyle Clapper had an RBI single that scored Steve Bayer to give Ashton a 1-0 lead.

Rothwell retired the first two batters of the fifth, but Mazomanie's Hudson Barsness started a two-out rally with a double, and scored after Mitch Howard followed with a double.

Tyler Kurt followed with what should have been an inning-ending ground ball that was thrown wide of first base and allowed Mitch Howard to come around and score, giving the Mustangs a 2-1 lead.

Ashton got the tying run on base in the ninth, but Howard escaped, recording two of his strikeouts in the frame.

"I feel like I was throwing a lot harder the last inning," Howard said. "I was just giving it all I had. Adrenaline definitely had something to do with it."

Ashton had four different players record hits, with Kyle Clapper recording the lone RBI.

Barsness went 2-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored to lead Mazomanie. Curtis Howard also went 2-for-5.

Ashton will look to build off of its successful campaign as it heads into next season.

Rothwell was in his first year with Ashton after playing for Lodi last season and became a trusted starting pitcher for the A's.

"I'm glad I got to come over (to Ashton)," Rothwell said. "It's been fun and I'll be back."

Ashton's 2017 squad featured many young players that will look to build off of a 9-7 regular season record.

"It was a bunch of young kids just out of high school from a year ago," Adler said. "Three guys that are playing infield are actually outfielders; hopefully next year they can do better."

Mazomanie will look to continue its hot streak when it travels to Reedsburg Sunday at 1 p.m.

"I really think we are one of the hottest teams in (Home Talent)," Howard said. "(We) just worry about the next game. It doesn't matter who we're playing."

 
 

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