EUGENE — Another power-hitting pitcher has lifted Ashland to within a game of the Class 5A finals.
Garrett Tygerson allowed one unearned run in his fourth complete game of the season and went 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and a solo home run as Grizzlies bounced North Eugene from the state quarterfinals for the second year in a row, 5-1, Friday at Swede Johnson Stadium.
Three days after pitcher Ian Kendall's three-run bomb and six strikeouts catapulted the Grizzlies past Crescent Valley, Tygerson struck out five and walked one while allowing just five hits.
The victory earns the Grizzlies (23-4) a semifinal date Tuesday (game time to be determined) on their home field at North Mountain Park with Corvallis (25-4), which beat Bend 10-2 in another quarterfinal game Friday.
"(Tygerson) is just a great pitcher," Ashland head coach Don Senestraro said. "He's always around the plate, he's got great stuff, he changes speeds well. He's always good, and whenever we put him out there we know we have a chance to win."
Luke Baldrica's double to center scored Hayden Miller from third to give Ashland the first run of the game in the second. The Grizzlies added a run in each of the next two innings — an RBI double by Tygerson in the third and a run-scoring single by Charlie Sebrell in the fourth.
Miller was 3-for-4 at the plate and scored twice, while designated hitter Kealii Cecil, who didn't play Tuesday, went 2-for-2 and also added a perfect sacrifice bunt that led to the Grizzlies' first run.
Already enjoying one of his best all-around games of the season, Tygerson pounded North starter Zach Fischer's outside fastball off the scoreboard in right-center to give the Grizzlies a 4-0 lead in the fifth. Three batters later, Cecil's single scored Miller to make it 5-0.
"As soon as I hit it I knew it was gone," Tygerson said of the homer, his fourth of the year.
Fischer allowed five runs on 10 hits before being pulled after Cecil's stroke to center completed Ashland's scoring. Highlanders' ace Tim Keller shut out the Grizzlies over the last two innings.
North Eugene loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, but managed to score just one run when Keller came home as Ashland turned a 4-6-3 double play.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, were clutch at the plate after struggling in that category against Crescent Valley. Three of Ashland's five runs scored with two outs, including two that were helped along by sacrifice bunts.
"When we face good teams like this, we try to make that our game because we're not always going to get big hits with the bases loaded," Cecil said. "They're a good team and they don't make many errors, so we just had to manufacture runs that way."
The Highlanders pushed Ashland to the brink in last year's quarterfinals — also played here — before the Grizzlies won the game in the seventh on Sam Gaviglio's three-run homer. This time, Tygerson made sure no final-inning dramatics were necessary by keeping North Eugene off balance and off base. Only three Highlanders advanced beyond first base in the first six innings.
"He did a good job," North Eugene coach Corey Nicholsen said. "I don't want to take anything away from him, but we've struggled with good pitching all year long. ... The story with us is we get very few baserunners on base and when we do we don't drive them in."
Corvallis, the No. 2 seed out of the Mid-Willamette Conference, figures to give Ashland's pitching staff one of its toughest tests of the year. The highest-scoring team in the state, the Spartans average 12 runs per game and have plated 18 runs in two playoff games — both blowouts.
"They're putting up tremendous runs," Senestraro said. "They're a great hitting team.
"I know one thing — we play great at our house, and we're really happy that we're playing at our house. It's going to be a tough game."
Ashland 011 120 0 — 5 13 2
North Eugene 000 000 1 — 1 5 0
Tygerson and L. Sebrell. Fischer, Clayton (5), Keller (6) and Dehaven. W — Tygerson (8-2). L — Fischer. 2B — Ashland: Miller (13), Tygerson (7), Baldrica (5). 3B — North Eugene: Moore. HR — Ashland: Tygerson (4).