A ball crushed by Ashland's Bryce Rogan drilled a sprinkler head during batting practice Friday, snapping its neck and spewing water onto the field for roughly 30 minutes. It was a perfect shot, exactly the kind of accuracy Ashland could have used when the game began two hours later.
Sherwood took advantage of seven Ashland errors, racked up 18 hits and received a complete-game pitching performance from Zakary Taylor to thump the Grizzlies 13-3 in the OSAA Class 5A state baseball quarterfinals at North Mountain Park.
Sherwood will host Sandy in a 5A semifinal game Tuesday. Ashland's ride ends in the elite eight for the second time in the last three years.
Recap: Sherwood had 18 hits as a team and took advantage of seven Grizzly errors to trounce the hosts 13-3 at North Mountain Park. Ashland third-baseman Eric Carlson had three hits to finish with a .500 batting average.
Up next: 5A state semifinals, Sandy at Sherwood, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"It's tough, especially when you're playing a good team, to not come out and play catch," Ashland coach John Wallace said. "Sherwood's a really good ball club and they've got a chance to do some things in the playoffs and when we give them free bases like that they really just took it to us."
The Grizzlies (20-9) were coming off an impressive first round win over Dallas on Wednesday but self-destructed against the Bowmen (23-6), committing six errors in the first two innings to turn what at first looked like merely a poor start into an absolute nightmare. Sherwood did its part, too, spraying eight hits to jump out to a 9-2 lead through two then riding Taylor's steady arm the rest of the way.
Taylor surrendered nine hits and three runs in seven innings with eight strikeouts and a walk.
Ashland starter Carter Glick gave up five runs, four earned, on four hits in the first then put on his catcher's gear for the second. That's when Tommy Hulick took the mound for the Grizzlies. The senior, one of six who played their last game in a Grizzly uniform, endured his share of defensive miscues as well while giving up six runs on 10 hits in four innings.
"The thought on that was what we were going with in the first inning wasn't working," Wallace said of the early pitching change. "They were all over us and I just needed to switch something up to get us going."
Keegan Lawrence and Travis Kotowski led Sherwood's offensive blitz with four hits apiece, while Scott Skurdahl was 3-for-4.
For Ashland, Eric Carlson put the finishing touches on one of the best offensive seasons in Ashland history by going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. He finished with a .500 batting average, 11 doubles — including one Friday — and 30 RBIs. He also received the loudest cheer by the Ashland home crowd all day when he was substituted out for a pinch runner following a seventh-inning single. Kyle Milgram added two hits, but everybody else in an Ashland uniform had four combined.
Things got ugly in a hurry against the Northwest Oregon Conference champion Bowmen, who were also responsible for the Grizzlies' previous quarterfinal setback in 2012. After their leadoff hitter, Rutschman, reached on a walk, Lawrence singled and, following a fly out, Travis Kotowski drilled a 3-1 pitch to drive in the first run of the game. Next, Riley Moore quickly fell behind 0-2, battled back to 2-2 then fouled off four consecutive pitches before delivering an RBI single to right.
Ashland had a chance to get out of the jam when the next batter, Dayton Vaughn, hit a potential double-play ball to Ashland second-baseman Jose Perez, but after Perez made the throw to get the force out at second Ashland shortstop Aaron Scott threw the ball wide of first base, allowing Kotowski to come home. Another wild throw followed, then a passed ball, then another bad throw, then an RBI single to right. By the time Perez finally ended the carnage by throwing out Rutschman, the Bowmen were slapping hands and taking the field with a healthy 5-0 cushion.
"I think (the first inning) did everything in the world for us and everything in the world from a negative standpoint for them," Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said. "They made a couple errors, threw the ball away, we took advantage of that and that's kind of what we preach — we're not a flashy team, we're not a big-hitting team. We're going to play small ball and we're going to make you beat yourself."
Ashland tried to battle back in the bottom of the inning. Scott, Steen Fredrickson and Carlson got the Grizzlies started with back-to-back-to-back hits, with Carlson's driving in a run. Later, Milgram punched a single through the left side of the infield to score another and make it 5-2.
It was back to work for Sherwood in the top of the second, when the Bowmen quickly reclaimed the momentum by scoring four runs against Hulick on four hits and two more errors. Moore and Cameron DuFault each came through with RBI singles.
"We fought back hard but they kept separating and we couldn't climb our way back into it," Wallace said.
The Bowmen tacked on two in the fifth and two in the sixth to suck out any remaining drama. Taylor held the Grizzlies scoreless on three hits over the last four innings to slam the door.
"I told them we had a lot to be proud of," Wallace said. "We had a great year. We can hang our hat on a 14-game win streak. We started off the year bad in Arizona and came back as a team and really grew together as a team.
"The teamwork, the bonds, the friendship, all that stuff really is what's going to last forever. There's only one team that can win the state championship and the sad part is that we're done playing and we don't get to come to the field and hang out in practice and be together anymore."
Sherwood 540 022 0 — 13 18 1
Ashland 201 000 0 — 3 9 7
Taylor and Rutschman; Glick, Hulick (2), Milgram (6) and Cammarota, Glick (2). W — Taylor. L — Glick (4-3). 2B — S: Taylor, Rutschman; A: Glick, Fredrickson, Sanderson.