Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
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.
SHERWOOD 4, ASHLAND 3, 9 inn. — At Wilsonville, No. 5-ranked Ashland was one strike away in regulation from advancing to the semifinals but ended up losing in extra innings when a hit batter forced in the winning run for defending state champion Sherwood.
Sherwood (24-4) tied the game 3-all in the bottom of the seventh when Connor Munro drilled an RBI single on a 3-2 pitch.
The Grizzlies trailed 2-0 but capitalized on a walk, two Bowmen errors and a timely hit by Eric Carlson to take a 3-2 lead in the fourth.
Ethan Schlecht drew a leadoff walk to begin the rally and scored two batters later on an error on a dropped third strike by Sherwood catcher Travis Dyer. Ashland's Bryce Rogan sprinted to first as Dyer overthrew first baseman Nate Montgomery. After Jamie Flynn reached base on another Bowmen error, Carlson blasted a triple to deep center field for a two-run triple.
Ashland 000 300 000 — 3 4 0
Sherwood 002 000 101 — 4 6 3
Carroll, Fredrickson (6), Schlecht (7) and Westhelle-Grant; Moore, Balfour (6) and Dyer. W — Balfour. L — Schlecht. 2B — A: Schlecht; S: Dailey. 3B — A: Westhelle-Grant, Carlson, Milgram.
HIDDEN VALLEY 14, MOLALLA 1 — At Grants Pass, Tyler Gulbransen excelled on the mound and at the plate as Hidden Valley earned a spot in the state semifinals for the first time since 2009.
The Mustangs (16-6) play at Skyline Conference foe Henley (14-13) on Tuesday. Henley, the conference fourth-place team, defeated Skyline champion Klamath Union 2-1 in the quarterfinals.
In 2009, Hidden Valley lost 8-2 in the semifinals to eventual state champion Astoria.
Gulbransen pitched six innings, allowing four hits and striking out seven at the Reinhart All-Sports Park. Molalla (14-11) scored an unearned run in the third inning off the Mustang senior.
Gulbransen led the Mustangs' 15-hit attack with two doubles and six RBIs. He hit a bases-loaded clearing double in a five-run second inning, then added a two-run double in the Mustangs' five-run fifth.
Hidden Valley also received three hits each from Gregory Hurd and BJ Hults, while Mike Hults and Jamie Schmidt collected two hits apiece.
Molalla 001 000 0 — 1 4 2
Hidden Valley 150 053 x — 14 15 1
James, Shaw (3), Ellis (5), Aylett (6) and Smith; Gulbransen, BJ Hults (7) and Ko. Garrison. W — Gulbransen. L — James. 2B — M: Pfau; HV: Gulbransen 2, Hurd 2, BJ Hults 2. 3B — HV: Hurd.
DAYTON 3, ROGUE RIVER 1 — At Dayton, Rogue River's hope for a seventh-inning rally was spurned by Dayton, which turned a double play to help it capture a quarterfinal playoff victory.
In the top of the seventh, Ashley Rabitoy and Danielle Taylor hit back-to-back doubles to lead off the frame and cut Dayton's lead to 3-1.
Josie Pratt looked to keep Rogue River's run going with a sharply-hit line drive up the middle, but Dayton's second baseman made a full-extension leaping catch to rob Pratt then tossed the ball to the shortstop covering second base to double-up Taylor. Rogue River's next batter grounded out to end the game.
The Chieftains had a hard time getting to Dayton ace Jamie Chenea, who didn't allow a hit until Hope Wolterman singled in the fifth inning for Rogue River (12-11). Chenae allowed three hits to go with eight strikeouts for Dayton, which will face Blanchet Catholic in Tuesday's semifinals.
Rogue River 000 000 1 — 1 3 0
Dayton 001 020 x — 3 3 0
Taylor, Swangel (5) and Pratt; Chenea and Ringnalda. W — Chenea. L — Taylor. 2B — RR: Rabitoy, Taylor; D: Mullan. 3B — D: S. Vannoy.