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Pilots pulverize Powell in first round of regionals

Before heading off to Bozeman, Mont., to compete in the American Legion A Northwest Regionals, Ashland Pilots' infielder/pitcher Ethan Schlecht insisted that despite the stakes, he and his teammates would not be intimidated.

Turns out, Schlecht knows his team pretty well.

Billy Hansen went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, Schlecht hit his second home run in three games and Brady Thomas dominated on the mound as Ashland walloped the Powell Pioneers of Wyoming 15-1 in the first round of the regional tournament Friday at Heroes Field.

The Pilots (32-12) scored four runs on four hits, including Schlecht's solo shot, in the third to open up a 6-0 lead, then tacked on seven more in the sixth, three on Hansen's bases-clearing triple, to bury the Pioneers (42-15). The game, scheduled for nine innings, ended after seven by the 10-run mercy rule.

"I'm not surprised that we came out and played really good baseball, but I'm kind of surprised with how many extra-base hits that we had," Ashland head coach Jeff Turner said. "We just attacked them for seven innings. We didn't leave any shadow of doubt, and we haven't really seen that from this team a lot this summer."

Ashland will play tourney host Gallatin Valley in a second-round contest tonight. The first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 7:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. Pacific). The Outlaws advanced with a 7-2 upset win over the Olympic Tigers of Washington.

With at least two players headed to college on baseball scholarships and a .420 team batting average, the Pioneers looked like a tough draw for the Pilots. But those fears quickly faded as Ashland hammered Powell starter Colter Bostick, a lefty, for eight runs on 13 hits through the first five innings.

In their most explosive offensive performance of the season five Pilots had multiple hits, they ripped 18 as a team and their 2-3-4-5 hitters combined to go a staggering 11-for-17 with six extra-base hits.

"I don't know if (Bostick) was having arm problems, but he didn't have as much velocity as we thought he would," Turner said. "And we just had a really solid approach at the plate."

Hansen had three RBIs and scored three times to lead the way, but he had plenty of help. Brent Hegdahl went 3-for-5 with two doubles, AJ Adams went 3-for-3 with three RBIs in the No. 9 hole, Schlecht went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Thomas went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

All that firepower made Thomas' job easier on the mound, but the Ashland High senior-to-be didn't let up. The hard-throwing righty held the Pioneers to one run on six hits, with Powell's only run coming home on a wild pitch in the seventh. He struck out nine and walked two.

"I kept using my fastball and trusting my defense and it worked out great," Thomas said.

After scoring a run in each of the first two innings, the Pilots broke the game open in the third. Schlecht's solo homer came with one out and was followed quickly by a single, a walk and a pair of RBI singles by Jamie Flynn and Evan Westhelle-Grant.

The game got away from Powell in the sixth, when Hansen led off with a double and later added the back-breaking, three-run triple that gave Ashland a 15-0 lead. In between, Thomas and Adams each hit run-scoring singles, and Westhelle-Grant drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Bostick was pulled before he was able to get an out in the sixth. His replacement, Josh Cragoe, also took a few lumps, giving up five runs on three hits in one inning of relief.

"The first two innings we thought it was going to be pretty close," Thomas said. "Then we started to figure out that (Bostick) wasn't really throwing much. And then we started going off from there."

Powell 000 000 1 — 1 6 0

Ashland 114 207 x — 15 18 0

Bostick, Cragoe (6) and Carter; Thomas and Westhelle-Grant. W — Thomas. L — Bostick. 2B — P: Geiser; A: Hansen 2, Hegdahl 2, Flynn. 3B — P: Olson; A: Hansen. HR — A: Schlecht.