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Ashburn shares his father's love of the game

As was the case with his late and well-known father, Richard Ashburn Jr.'s love for baseball runs deep.

As was the case with his late and well-known father, Richard Ashburn Jr.'s love for baseball runs deep.

The Hall of Famer's eldest son, rarely straying from the game that grabbed his attention when he was a youngster, is a full-time hitting instructor and second-year head coach at Pottsgrove High.

"I'm certain that a lot of it came from following my dad everywhere and being around the Phillies a lot," said Ashburn, who was a bat boy and clubhouse attendant for the club during his father's days as a broadcaster.

Ashburn, 52, played baseball at the Haverford School and Harriton High. A switch-hitting third baseman, he had a 1979 tryout with the Phillies.

In spring training, while trying to stretch a single into a double, he made a headfirst slide that resulted in a dislocated left shoulder.

"After that, I was in a car accident," he said. "I split my knee in half. It took me two years to recover."

Richie Ashburn, a fleet-footed centerfielder for the Phillies from 1948 to 1959, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.

"I didn't have his speed or his eye," said the younger Ashburn, who also was a "junk-ball pitcher" in high school.

Ashburn, the fifth of Richie and Herberta's six childen, is a one-on-one hitting instructor at Waltz Golf Farm in Limerick Township.

Last year, he took over the job of trying to turn Pottsgrove's downtrodden baseball squad into a consistent competitor in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.

"The program was in really bad shape," he said. "One of the big things I try to do is get the kids to believe they can win."

With one game remaining, the Falcons are 3-14 in the PAC-10. "We've had a ton of one- and two-run losses," the coach said.

Ashburn and his wife, Lisa, have two sons: Taylor, 21, who graduated from Alvernia on Saturday with a degree in criminal justice, and Harry, 17, a junior at Owen J. Roberts. Harry is named after Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn's longtime broadcast partner, and a family relative.

In 1998, a year after his father died, Ashburn, longtime Penn Charter coach Rick Mellor, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. founded the Richie Ashburn Baseball Foundation.

After Kalas' death in 2009, the name was changed to the Richie Ashburn-Harry Kalas Foundation. The group provides free camps and clinics in the Philadelphia area for more than 1,000 children each summer.

"It's rewarding to give back to the community," said Ashburn, also a seventh-grade football coach.

His nephew, Jack, is a senior catcher for PAC-10 rival Phoenixville. The son of John Ashburn, a regional sales manager for a beer distribution company, he plans to be a walk-on player at the University of Nebraska.

FSL playoffs. The Friends Schools League semifinals will be played at 4 p.m. Wednesday. No. 1 seed Friends' Central will host No. 4 Friends Select, and No. 2 Shipley will host No. 3 Germantown Friends.

The championship is slated for noon Saturday, at the site of the highest remaining seed.

Extra bases. La Salle, the front-runner in the Catholic League Red Division, has been led on offense by Colin Pyne (.479 average, 20 runs, 8 stolen bases); Chris Melillo (.442, 17 runs); Tyler Kozeniewski (.439, 14 RBIs); and Corey Baiada (.442, 15 RBIs). . . . Germantown Academy righthander Mike Fitzgerald, out most of this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Roman Catholic shortstop Will Dougherty will join forces at Northeastern. Episcopal Academy righthander Burk FitzPatrick, who has committed to Maine, underwent shoulder surgery Wednesday. He is expected to return in time for the Black Bears' 2013 opener at Miami. . . . Garnet Valley's pitching staff is headed by Ryan Dorosh (6-2, 1.02 ERA, 77 strikeouts in 49 innings) and Dalton Mayberry (5-1, 1.05 ERA, 49 Ks in 41 innings). . . . Perkiomen School centerfielder Axel Rivera will play at Philadelphia University. . . . Great Valley righthander D.J. Mallon, recently sidelined with a groin pull, is headed for Gwynedd-Mercy. . . . Friends' Central pitcher Ben Harris is 6-0 with a 1.10 ERA and 76 Ks in 51 innings.