Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
PLEASANT HILL — The Cascade Christian baseball team's searching for offensive output on Friday reached a state of urgency before Justin Cheney delivered the Challengers' biggest hit of the season.
Cheney capped an eight-run sixth inning with a grand slam to rally the Challengers from a 5-0 deficit against Pleasant Hill for an 8-6 triumph in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
The Challengers (22-6) will host Bandon in the semifinals on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
For a team that usually banks on manufacturing runs, Cheney's team-leading second home run of the season provided rarely seen power for the Challengers, who took advantage of early-inning miscues by the Billies (22-5).
The top of the sixth began with both Andrew Sha and Jake Miller getting on with consecutive errors by the Billies, the first by their shortstop Will Parmenter. Cody Coggins followed with a single that brought home Sha from second base to break the ice for the Challengers.
"We had talked in the huddle about one base at a time," said Cascade Christian assistant coach Paul Sha, who filled in for head coach John Bruce, out with an illness. "And when their best player made a mistake, we were like 'They're human.' Then Jake got a hit and their defense got tight."
Isaiah Luzny kept it going for Cascade, scoring Miller on a single before Coggins crossed the plate on an infield error — the Billies' third miscue of the inning — which trimmed the lead to 5-3.
Tyler West brought the Challengers within one run by plating Luzny on a bases-loaded single. One out later, the stage was set for Cheney's slam that put the Challengers up for good.
"It all started with little things and everyone kept battling at the plate then all of a sudden ... it was a big surprise for us because that's not usually how we get runs," said coach Sha.
"In baseball there's no clock. It's never over. That's so true. We did it one base at a time, then Justin hits a grand slam."
Aside from one run allowed in the bottom of the sixth inning, Kyle Ferguson kept the Billies in check afterward, pitching 12/3 innings before giving way to Luzny with two outs in the seventh. Luzny induced Parmenter to ground out.
Luzny went 2-for-3 for the Challengers.
Bruce Gibbau went 2-for-3 with a leadoff homer in the fourth that gave the Billies a 3-0 lead.
Cascade Christian 000 008 0 — 8 5 1
Pleasant Hill 002 211 0 — 6 9 3
Scottow, Ragan (4), Ferguson (6), Luzny (7) and Jones; Ritchie, Parmenter (6) and Smith. W — Ferguson. L — Ritchie. 2B — PH: Bertsch, Parmenter, Gibbau. HR — CC: Cheney (2); P: Gibbau.