Grizzlies open season in style

One game. One triple. One home run.

So far, so good for Ashland High sophomore Billy Hansen, who started his first varsity season with a bang, then another bang, Tuesday.

Hansen went 4-for-4 with four RBIs, including a three-run homer in the sixth inning that helped Ashland break open a tight game en route to a 9-3 season-opening victory over Henley at North Mountain Park.

Besides the game-clinching dinger, Ashland's new third baseman also had a triple to deep center in the third inning, a pair of singles and scored twice for the Grizzlies, who survived a three-error day by out-hitting the Class 4A Hornets 10-5.

"I was a little nervous before the game so it was good on my first at-bat to get a hit, then I kind of loosened up," said Hansen, who played for the Ashland junior varsity team last year. "I was trying to put good swings on the ball and it worked out for me."

Lucas Stone pitched the first four innings to pick up the win for the Grizzlies, striking out eight and walking two. He allowed two earned runs on three hits before being relieved by Brady Thomas in the fifth. Thomas struck out two without a walk to pickup the save.

Down 1-0, Ashland scored three runs on two hits in the third to pass up Henley. Brady Thomas led off with a walk and his courtesy runner, Wes Hitchko, came round to score on a stolen base, a passed ball and an error. Hansen followed with his stand-up three-bagger and, two batters later, Luke Baldrica belted the second big hit of the inning when his double to left-center scored Hansen. Ian Kendall then scored on a fielder's choice.

Henley's two-out rally tied the game in the fourth, with James Lupinski and Doug North delivering clutch singles, the latter driving home two runs.

Hansen's RBI single in the fourth scored Hitchko to give Ashland the lead for good, and his drive to left in the sixth put the Hornets away.

Jake Scarminach and Nick Hall both laced singles to set the table for Hansen, who took advantage of a fat pitch with the count at 3-0. The towering shot looked like it would hook foul, but bended just inside the foul pole.

"Coach gave me the green light on three and oh, which I was happy about," Hansen said. "I hit it and I wasn't sure if it was going to be fair or foul. Actually, when I hit it I thought it was going to go foul, so I kind of watched it. I'm glad it stayed fair."

Senestraro wasn't surprised by Hansen's coming out party.

"We knew he was a good player last year, and he played (JV) because we knew he wouldn't get any playing time here with (the varsity)," Senestraro said. "We knew he was going to make the jumps this year. He had a great summer and he's going to be a big producer for us.

"He's a very humble kid who's very teachable and he gets better every day. We just gotta work on his throwing here at third a little bit and we're going to have a great player there."

Hansen's throwing error on the first play of the game didn't end up hurting the Grizzlies after Stone struck out the next two batters, then coaxed an easy grounder out of David Rosser to strand a runner at third.

Ashland plays its first road game of the season Thursday at South Medford.

Henley 001 200 0 — 3 5 2

Ashland 003 114 x — 9 10 3

Cullen, Shannon (4), Montgomery (6) and Swan; Stone, Thomas (5) and Scarminach. W — Stone (1-0). L — Cullen (0-1). 2B — A: Baldrica, Schlecht. 3B — A: Hansen. HR — A: Hansen (1).

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