Pilots sweep KF, clinch playoff berth

The Ashland Pilots punched their ticket to postseason play Wednesday with a decisive doubleheader sweep of the Klamath Falls Hawks.

Pilot sophomore starters Charlie Sebrell (7-2) and Garrett Tygerson each pitched well en route to the pair of 11-1 victories in the squad's regular-season finale.

The sweep clinched for Ashland the No. 2 seed from the Area 4 Southern Division. On Sunday, they'll play the No. 2 team from the Northern Division, with the winner advancing to the state tournament.

The Pilots (26-10, 20-8 Area 4) jumped out to an insurmountable lead in the first two innings of Game 1, as the entire batting order stepped to the plate in each inning. Hawks starting pitcher Seth Brown struggled with his control, walking six Pilots in his one-plus innings pitched. Brown faced five batters in the second. He walked three of them, and the other two resulted in RBI hits.

The first Ashland run in the first was scored when Sam Gaviglio hit into a double play with the bases loaded to bring home Ian Kendall. Two batters later, Hayden Miller hit a two-run double to left-center field to widen the Pilot lead to three.

In the second, after a pair of walks by Brown, Tygerson (5-1) brought Kendall home with a single to center field. Brown's sixth and final walk loaded the bases for Luke Jannusch, who blasted a triple to the left-center-field fence to clear the bases and boost the lead to 7-0.

Relief pitcher DJ White failed to pay instant dividends as the first batter he faced, Hayden Miller, connected for his second double in as many innings to score Jannusch. Max Gordon followed with a base on balls, and then the Hawks retired their first batter of the inning, Sebrell, the inning's eighth batter. This wouldn't end the rally, however, as Tyler Killeen plated Miller with a single. Killeen would later score on an error and by the end of the second, the Ashland lead had reached 10-0.

Ashland's final run was scored in the third inning when Bill Russo scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch. The Pilots managed to load the bases at least once in each of their four innings of the game stopped by the mercy rule.

It took four innings for Sebrell to give up a hit, which kept the inning alive for Klamath's Ryan Gleason to bring home Mason Aspera (who reached base by an error) for the Hawks' only run of the game.

Sebrell allowed no earned runs and only two hits in five innings. He struck out two Hawks and allowed no walks. Miller went 2-for-2 at the plate with three RBIs, and Lewis Sebrell stole three bases while going 1-for-1 with an RBI, two walks and a pair of runs scored. Kendall swiped three bases as well, as he went 1-for-1 with a walk and two runs scored.

Klamath's Brown allowed eight earned runs on six hits and six walks in his inning pitched. White slowed the bleeding, allowing three runs on five hits in three innings. He struck out two and walked four Pilots.

Tygerson and Klamath's Jake Herr both pitched well early in Game 2, and the scoreboard was blank through two innings. The Hawks struck first, in the third inning, when Andrew McDaniel hit a sacrifice fly to score Herr from third base.

In the bottom of the inning, the Pilots re-established their dominance with a massive two-out rally. After Herr retired the first two batters, Kendall kicked off the rally with a seemingly innocent single for Ashland's first hit of the game. A Lewis Sebrell walk set the stage for three pitches that would change everything.

With the first, Tygerson sent a rocket-shot over the left-field fence to give Ashland a 3-1 lead. He said after the game that it felt right when he swung the bat.

"It was a 2-0 count and he just left the ball right down the middle," Tygerson said. "I just knew as soon as I hit it, it was gone. It felt really good. Especially because we were down 1-0 and then the rally just kept on going after that."

Jannusch was hit by the following pitch. The third pitch of the sequence, to Sam Gaviglio, was hit over the left-field fence, and Klamath's minimal lead turned into a 5-1 deficit.

The rally continued and a bases-loaded error allowed Miller to trot home to make the score 6-1 after three innings.

Tygerson continued his stellar pitching effort, setting down the Hawks in order in the fourth.

After Klamath relief pitcher Chad Swan retired the first two Pilot batters in the bottom of the fourth, Ashland tacked on its seventh run. A pair of throwing errors on a single play by Hawks infielders resulted in Jannusch crossing the plate for the second time.

Another three-up, three-down inning from Tygerson led to three more Ashland runs in the bottom of the fifth. Tygerson helped his own cause again with a two-run, bases-loaded single with a grounder up the middle. Tygerson has gotten into a habit of having monstrous games at the plate on days he is pitching, and said he feels more in rhythm in that situation.

"I feel like I have more confidence when I'm hitting, especially when we're winning and I have control out on the mound," Tygerson said. "That kind of just carries over to when I'm hitting."

Gaviglio found himself at bat with the bases loaded as well and cashed in with an RBI single to left field. The score was 10-1 through five.

Casey Skolnik pitched a harmless sixth, giving up only a pair of walks. In the bottom half of the inning, a sloppy night for the Hawks stayed that way as a pair of wild pitches moved Russo from first base to third base and he scored on a throwing error. The run gave the Pilots an 11-1 lead and enacted the mercy rule.

Tygerson allowed an earned run on four hits in five innings, striking out four and walking two. At the plate, he went 2-for-4 with five RBIs and a home run. Gaviglio batted 2-for-2 with three RBIs and a homer.

Pilots coach Don Senestraro is excited for the future of his two sophomore hurlers, Tygerson and Charlie Sebrell.

"They've been great for the last five months," Senestraro said. "Tygerson's got a great changeup and keeps kids off pace and throws strikes. They both hit their spots. I've got them here two more years. I'm really looking forward to that. They're great kids."

For Klamath, Herr allowed six runs on five hits and four walks in three innings. Swan gave up four runs on three hits in 2 2-3. Both struck out two Pilots and walked four.

Next, the Pilots will play a nine-inning game against either Roseburg or North Coos Bay on Sunday. The site and game time have yet to be determined.

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