Grants Pass battled back-and-forth with Corvallis in a nail-biter to open the American Legion AAA state tournament, erasing a six-inning deficit with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to prevail 7-6 on Wednesday at Harry & David Field.
The Area 4 champion Nuggets (35-10) tied the opening-game contest in the seventh inning on an RBI single by Sebastian Reynolds, who plated fellow Crater High product Anthony Martin. Martin was hit by a pitch with two outs in the seventh and stole second to move into scoring position for Reynolds. Evan Erskine followed with a double but Corvallis starter Trevor Young induced a flyout to keep the game level at 6-all.
In the eighth, Matt Cole slapped a one-out single off reliever Kyle Storm and stole second before an error allowed Josh Cowell to reach base. Corvallis opted to intentionally walk Jake Herklotz to load the bases with one out, and Tyler Bennett supplied the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to right field for the Nuggets first lead of the game.
Cole finished off the contest with his second scoreless inning of relief to earn the win for Grants Pass. He allowed a leadoff single in the ninth to Walter Brattain but induced a fielder's choice comebacker, struck out Kane Markley and got a game-ending groundout to Erskine, who moved to shortstop in the eighth.
The Nuggets advanced in the winner's bracket of the eight-team tournament and will play the Canyon Crushers of Salem at 3:30 p.m. today. Corvallis will play the Northwest Star East County Knights at 9 this morning in an elimination contest.
For Grants Pass, Reynolds and Erskine each had three hits to lead the charge, while Marco Garmendia went 2-for-5 with one RBI and Herklotz blasted a solo home run in the second inning and finished with two RBIs. Martin scored three times after drawing three walks and one hit by pitch.
Nolan Bastendorff left without a decision after pitching seven innings for the Nuggets. The Crater senior-to-be allowed six runs — four earned — and eight hits with two walks, three hit batters and one strikeout.
Nathan Reynolds was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Stephen Coskey 3-for-5 with two runs and one RBI to pace the Corvallis Gerding Builders, who lost to GP for the second straight year in the state tourney opener.
Corvallis Gerding Builders 101 301 000 — 6 9 1
Grants Pass Nuggets 010 112 11x — 7 11 3
Young, Storm (8) and Liner; Bastendorff, Cole (8) and Erskine, Garrison (8). W — Cole. L — Storm. 2B — GP: Erskine. 3B — GP: Cowell. HR — GP: Herklotz.
CANYON CRUSHERS 16, NW STAR EAST COUNTY KNIGHTS 1, 7 inn. — Justin Gardner went 3-for-4 with four runs and two RBIs and Mason Fessler 3-for-5 with two RBIs to help lead the Canyon Crushers of Salem in opening-round play at Harry & David Field.
The game was shortened to seven innings by virtue of the 10-run mercy rule.
Ben Johnson pitched six innings and earned the win after allowing one unearned run and three hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Also for the Crushers, who advance to play Grants Pass at 3:30 p.m. today, Conner Gilham was 2-for-3 with one run and two RBIs, Hunter Gates 2-for-4 with one run and two RBIs and Chris Burger scored three times. Ty Wyatt had a solo home run in a nine-run fifth inning.
The East County Knights scored their lone run in the second inning when Evan Jones reached on an error and eventually scored on a fielder's choice by Cameron Hawkins. The Knights will play an elimination game at 9 a.m. today against Corvallis Gerding Builders.
NW Star East County 010 000 0 — 1 3 6
Canyon Crushers 101 392 x — 16 15 2
Simmons, Murphy (5), Bosso (6) and Fritsch; Johnson, Strong (7) and Gates. W — Johnson. L — Simmons. 2B — EC: Fritsch, Young; C: Burger, Gilham. HR — C: Wyatt.
DEMARINI DIRTBAGS 5, PORTLAND BARBERS 1 — The DeMarini Dirtbags of Salem used a three-run seventh inning, highlighted by a two-run single from Jacob Riddell, to pull away for an opening-round win at Harry & David Field.
Caleb Henry went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI and Bret Moskal was 2-for-4 for the Dirtbags, while Jarett Peterson added an RBI single in the seventh inning to help secure the pitching win for Riley Newman.
Robby Heiberg and Mitchell Rose each had two hits to pace the Portland Barbers, who scored their lone run in the sixth inning when Gabe Scanlon doubled and eventually raced home on a passed ball.
Medford will face the Barbers in an elimination contest at 12:15 p.m. today. The Dirtbags and Columbia Gorge will play at 7 tonight.
Portland Barbers 000 001 000 — 1 7 1
DeMarini Dirtbags 000 011 30x — 5 9 1
Stringer, Evans (6), Schwyhart (8) and Rose; Newman, Fast (8) and Moskal. W — Newman. L — Stringer. 2B — P: Heiberg, Scanlon; D: Newman.