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Hood River knocks out Ashland in state quarterfinals

Conner Coerper threw a two-hit shutout and Patrick Harvey provided all the run support with two solo home runs as Hood River Valley beat Ashland 2-0 in an OSAA Class 5A state quarterfinal game Friday at Traner Field in Hood River.

The win sends the second-seeded and defending state champion Eagles into the state semifinals for the third year in a row. They’ll be home again on Tuesday against Churchill, which advanced with a 7-5 win over Crater.

Ashland received a strong pitching performance by junior righty Peyton Fuller but struggled against Coerper and was eliminated in the quarters for the second time in three years. Fuller, who committed to the University of Oregon on Tuesday, limited the Eagles to six hits while striking out seven with one walk.

“That’s all you can really ask for from Peyton, to hold a team like that to two runs,” said Ashland coach Nick Hall, whose team finished 19-9. “He definitely gave us a chance to win today so I was very pleased. He pitched to a very, very good lineup.”

Coerper, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, was a little better though, giving up two singles to Evan McLennan and little else. He struck out four, walked two and hit two batters. Twice an Ashland base-runner got as far as second base but no further, and Coerper needed only 86 pitches to complete the shutout.

“He had good command of all three pitches,” Hall said. “He wasn’t overpowering, but he really located his pitches, had a really good tempo and we just couldn’t do anything to kind of break that rhythm all game. That was tough.”

Harvey, a senior, gave the Eagles (22-6) a huge lift with two outs in the bottom of the first, jumping all over Fuller’s first pitch and sending over the wall in left.

Fuller shut down Hood River over the next four innings, but Harvey struck again to lead off the sixth, launching Fuller’s first pitch to deep right for his second homer of the day and fifth of the season.

Hall said both shots were “no-doubters.”

“We learned quickly that he was going to be on time with the fastball,” Hall said. “His first home run was a fastball up and he was right on time and crushed it. Then we actually tried to throw that last pitch off the plate away and he reached out and hit it over the right field fence. Pretty impressive.”

McLennan delivered a two-out single to keep the Grizzlies’ comeback hopes alive in the seventh, but Coerper got Shea Scott to ground out to second to end the game.

Ashland’s best chance to score came in the first, when Jesse Carroll and Nick Sanderson drew back-to-back walks to put runners on first and second with two out. Fuller grounded out to third to end the threat.

In the fifth, Scott reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second to put the tying run in scoring position, but Coerper struck out Ashland leadoff hitter Kellar Edwards with a clutch full-count fastball.

Hall said another big play occurred in the opening minutes, when Hood River shortstop Skyler Hunter made a diving stop to rob Edwards of a single.

“That really set the tone that they weren’t going to let us have anything easy,” he said.

The game was the final high school appearance for five Ashland seniors, including three who were in the starting lineup Friday — designated hitter Noah Falkner, third baseman Caleb Bell and catcher Jett Hamik. They helped the Grizzlies navigate through a season filled with ups and downs.

Ashland won nine of its first 10 games before a rough patch in the middle of the season coincided with the Grizzlies losing two senior starters, including leadoff hitter and starting center fielder TarQuin Daley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury when his car was struck by a drunk driver.

Hall said it was a hard-working team that made big strides despite the hardships it faced.

“We grew a lot as a team and individually,” he said. “It really made me happy to see how much growth as players some of these guys made. We had guys who were bench players playing in the outfield, whatever, and they turned into key role players for us by the end of the year. It makes you happy to see guys improve over the course of the season like that.”

Ashland 000 000 0 — 0 2 0

Hood River 100 001 x — 2 6 0

Fuller and Hamik; Coerper and Cameron. W — Coerper. L — Fuller. 3B — HR: Hunter.