Pilots cruise into Coos (Bay)

There was the patented diving catch, the laser shots into right field, the aggressive base running. Yes, Max Gordon was back at North Mountain Park, and the Ashland Pilots couldn't be happier.

Gordon went 4-for-4 with five RBIs and Garrett Tygerson pitched a complete game as the Pilots beat North Eugene 9-1 on Sunday in an American Legion A state play-in game.

The win advances Ashland (29-8) to the state tournament at Coos Bay. The defending state champion Pilots play Roseburg Pepsi in the first round of the double-elimination tourney Friday at noon at North Bend High's Clyde Allen Field.

"Playing in this game and being able to play as well as we did today, I think that helps," Ashland head coach Royce Miller said.

Gordon, who batted leadoff for Ashland High's state championship team as a senior before taking most of the summer off, was asked to suit up after injuries to Kealii Cecil and Luke Baldrica left the Pilots shorthanded.

The move paid off, and fast.

Gordon delivered a two-run single to cap a two-out rally in the first inning, putting Ashland ahead for good, then made a diving catch, one of his specialties, in the top of the second to rob Kyle DeHaven of a single.

"I guess it was just easy to adjust &

I've just kind of been in the baseball mentality all summer," said Gordon, who's been playing this summer primarily for the Royals, a men's league team based in White City. "I was just hoping that I didn't come out and disappoint myself because I hadn't played (in two weeks). If I wouldn't of done good I wouldn't have used that as an excuse, but it felt good to come out and stroke the ball again."

Gordon plans to stick with the team throughout the postseason.

Also coming through at the plate for Ashland were Hayden Miller (3-for-4, RBI), Nick Hall (2-for-4, RBI) and Ian Kendall (2-for-3).

Tygerson did the rest, allowing one earned run on four hits while striking out seven to improve to 7-0.

North Eugene starting pitcher Zach Fischer went 2 1-3 innings. He gave up four runs on seven hits before getting the hook in favor of Garrett Mills, who pitched the rest of the game.

North Eugene scored its only run when Fischer came home on Jeff Hollis' sacrifice fly to right in the fourth inning. Before and after that the game belonged to Tygerson, who kept the bases mostly clear with a fastball that topped out at 85 mph and a curve that had North Eugene batters lunging.

"I just kept my pitch count down, got first-pitch strikes and that helped me a lot," Tygerson said. "I just figured that they could all hit fastballs so I just knew I could get ahead with a curve ball. That started them off 0-1 most of the time."

Back-to-back hits by Kendall and Tygerson in the first put runners on second and third for Gordon, who chopped a single past a diving Hollis at first base to give the Pilots a quick 2-0 lead.

Ashland made it 3-0 in the second inning when Hayden Miller ripped a single to center that scored Luke Stone from second.

Gordon's RBI single in the third upped the lead to 4-0.

With two out and two on in the fourth, Hall came through with an RBI single to right to make it 5-1.

Ashland then broke the game open in the sixth, scoring four runs on three hits, including another two-run single by Gordon that came with the bases loaded and two out.

Royce Miller had a talk with Gordon before the game about his role as a No. 5 hitter which seemed to pay off.

"I told (Max), I said, 'Today we need a power swing from you, we don't need the bunting and all that. We need you to be a heavy-hitting, gap-shot guy and to drive runs in, not to just move runners along,'" Miller said. "He understands that. That's the nice thing about Max, he can adjust to either game because he's been both throughout his career."

North Eugene 000 100 0 "" — 4 1

Ashland 211 104 x "" 9 13 2

Fischer, Mills (3) and Dehaven; Tygerson and Hegdahl. W &

Tygerson (7-0). L &

Fischer. 2B &

A: Tygerson.

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