A Grizz hit parade

Entering Thursday's second-round play-in game against Willamette, the Ashland Grizzlies had not lost a home game since 2010, a run of 24 wins in a row.

So one can understand why head coach Don Senestraro was concerned about complacency possibly creeping into the Ashland dugout.

Apparently, Senestraro can relax.

"These kids got something to prove," he said following the Grizzlies' latest beatdown, "and they're good, man. Maybe when this is all done hopefully people will realize how good they were."

That could be a while.

Ashland batted through its lineup twice in a 12-run first inning to floor visiting Willamette and bust through to the 5A state tournament.

The Grizzlies beat the Wolverines 20-3 at North Mountain Park — and it wasn't that close. Ashland led 16-1 after two innings and finished with 20 hits, including nine for extra bases, to clinch a spot in the 16-team Class 5A tourney, which begins Wednesday. Ashland will host an opponent yet to be determined in the first round.

The Grizzlies (24-1) pummelled Willamette starting pitcher Ryan Concannon, scoring 11 runs on seven hits. The rally started quietly — Concannon walked the first two batters he faced then hit Ethan Schlecht to load the bases. After a pop-out, Jake Scarminach, Brady Thomas and Max Anderson delivered back-to-back-to-back singles. Anderson's sharp line drive to left plated two runs and gave Ashland a 4-0 lead. The Grizzlies piled on from there — once back to the top of their lineup Taylor Humphrey and Billy Hansen cranked back-to-back doubles, and two batters later Brent Hegdahl belted a line drive triple off the wall in left.

Hegdahl's blast, his first of three extra-base hits on the day, marked the end of the line for Concannon, who surrendered four hits and a walk after notching the second out of the inning.

"We came out with a ton of intensity, a lot of focus," Hegdahl said. "We were just all amped for this game — the whole day everybody was going crazy."

The only question from that point on revolved around Ashland's focus, which the Grizzlies somehow maintained while continuing to pound away. They increased their lead to 16-1 in the second and 19-1 in the fourth, even as Senestraro held back base-runners and emptied his bench. In the seventh, Ashland junior varsity pitcher Jack Carroll threw to another JV call up, catcher Carter Glick.

Six Grizzlies finished the game with multiple hits, including two who had three hits or more. The top seven batters in Ashland's lineup were a combined 17-for-25.

"It felt to me like the energy was sort of like it was in Montana with the Legion team," said Hansen, referring to Ashland's American Legion regional championship run last summer. "Everyone was a little bit nervous, a little bit amped up and we all knew we needed to get a hit. And everyone knew it was upon them to have a good at-bat and give it to the next guy. That's why we jumped on them so early."

Billy Hansen was 4-for-4 with three doubles and four RBIs, Anderson was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and Hegdahl was 3-for-4 with four RBIs and was a mere single away from batting for the cycle. Hegdahl's home run — his fourth of the season — to right-center to leadoff the fifth capped the scoring for Ashland, which set a season high for runs and margin of victory.

"They swing it as good as anybody we've seen in the state this year," said Willamette head coach Jon Guldager, whose team finished 7-16. "We saw a team down in Arizona out of Denver, Colorado that swung it as good as these guys do. I think it's their mental approach and the confidence they carry to the plate."

Brady Thomas pitched the first three innings for Ashland, giving up one run on four hits while striking out three. Anderson took over in the third and Christian Morrison pitched the sixth.

Pairings for the round of 16 won't be released until later this week, but Ashland — ranked No. 2 — is certain to garner a home game in the first round, and likely the second round as well, should the Grizzlies advance.

No matter who or where the Grizzlies play, Senestraro is confident that they'll be ready.

"They have a drive that I've never seen in any other club that I've coached," Senestraro said. "They're relentless. They always constantly want to strive to be as good as they can, get as many runs as they can, hit the ball as well as they can. They work very hard to be where they are."

Willamette 010 001 1 — 3 9 3

Ashland (12)40 310 x — 20 20 2

Concannon, Svensson (1) and Leber; Thomas, Anderson (4), Morrison (6), Carroll (7) and Scarminach, Westhelle (6), Glick (7). W — Anderson. L — Concannon. 2B — A: Hansen 3, Humphrey 2, Hegdahl, Thomas. 3B — Hegdahl. HR — Hegdahl (4).

Share This Story