His team on the ropes after his first subpar pitching performance of the season, Lucas Stone desperately wanted to redeem himself at the plate.
SPRINGFIELD — His team on the ropes after his first subpar pitching performance of the season, Lucas Stone desperately wanted to redeem himself at the plate.
"I was just really determined to do something productive," he said.
Stone did much more, blasting a grand slam home run to tie the game in the fifth, as the third-ranked Ashland High baseball team stormed back from a 7-1 deficit to stun 10th-ranked Thurston 8-7 Friday in the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
The win advances Ashland to the semifinals for the fourth year in a row. The Grizzlies (23-5) will host Madras (22-8), the No. 2 seed from the Intermountain Conference, on Tuesday at North Mountain Park. Madras beat Crater 11-3 in another quarterfinal game Friday.
Thurston, the defending state champion, scored seven runs off Stone on nine hits to build a comfortable six-run cushion, but Ashland cut the deficit to four and loaded the bases for Stone with nobody out in the top of the fifth. The senior came through, belting his third homer of the year over fence in left-center to give the Grizzlies new life.
Ashland scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh on Ethan Schlecht's sacrifice fly. The drive was caught in foul territory plenty deep enough to score Luke Baldrica, who led off the inning with a double and moved to third on an error.
"The boys gathered (heading into the fifth inning) and they said that they were not going to lose this way," Ashland head coach Don Senestraro said. "I'm just so proud of them."
Baldrica went 4-for-4 and scored three runs to lead the Grizzlies at the plate, while Jake Scarminach and Brent Hegdahl each went 2-for-4.
The dramatic comeback was similar to Ashland's '08 quarterfinal win over North Eugene. In that one, the Grizzlies shocked the Highlanders 5-4 on Sam Gaviglio's two-out, three-run homer in the seventh.Senestraro, in his sixth year at the helm, said Friday's win trumped even the one from two years ago.
"Like I told the boys, I've coached a lot of wins and I believe this was the best comeback in my short history," he said.
Ashland relief pitcher Brady Thomas (7-1) picked up the win after relieving Stone with two outs in the fourth. Thomas, making his postseason debut, held the Colts to zero runs on one hit in 2 1/3 innings before staff ace Ian Kendall took over in the seventh. Kendall gave up a one-out single to Jarren Goddard, but struck out the next batter before coaxing a ground out to third to end the game.
Kyle Wright and Anthony Havens each belted homers in the fourth, with Havens' two-run shot giving Thurston its largest lead of the game, 7-1.
Goddard and Aaron Hoover each went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead the Colts at the plate.
In the fifth, Scarminach sparked Ashland's rally with a leadoff single. Billy Hansen doubled and Baldrica singled to keep it going, prompting Thurston to replace starting pitcher Dawson Phinney with Tyler Johnson.
Two pitches later, Stone jumped all over Johnson's outside fastball.
"He threw me a (first) pitch on the outside and I kind of scooted up," said Stone, who played through back cramps. "Then he threw me the exact same pitch and I was able to put a good swing on it.
"I was pretty sure it was going to get down (off the wall), then as I was crossing first — I took a pretty good turn — I saw (Baldrica) slow down. It was just the greatest feeling in the world, knowing that I picked up my teammates after I had a bad start."
Ashland 000 160 1 — 8 11 0
Thurston 211 300 0 — 7 11 4
Stone, Thomas (4), Kendall (7) and Scarminach; Phinney, Johnson (5) and Havens. W — Thomas (7-1). L — Johnson. 2B — A: Hansen, Baldrica. HR — A: Stone (3); T: Havens, Johnson, Wright.
Prep Track and Field
At Eugene, senior Camelia Mayfield placed fifth in the girls 3,000-meter run to lead Ashland in the first day of the Class 5A state track and field meet Friday at Hayward Field.
Mayfield finished the race in 10 minutes, 34.53 seconds. Megan Fristoe of Summit won the event in 10:23.08. Also for Ashland, sisters Allison and Katherine Shulenberger placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 400 preliminaries to earn spots in today's finals.
College Track and Field
Alex Waroff and Kelly Clark each turned in top 10 finishes to lead Southern Oregon during the second day of the NAIA track and field national championships Friday in Marion, Ind.
Waroff finished sixth with 6,620 points in the decathlon to earn All-American honors, while British Columbia's Reid Gustavson won the event with 7,026 points.
Waroff, a junior, started off the second day of the decathlon on fire. He finished 12th in the 110 hurdles with a personal best time of 16.48 seconds. Waroff then finished third in the discus with a throw of 128-feet, 5 inches and second in pole vault with a vault of 14-3 1/4. In the javelin, Waroff finished eighth with a throw of 164-0, then wrapped up his day with a sixth-place finish in the 1,500 with a time of 4:46.22.
Waroff finished 13th at last year's national championships.
Clark narrowly missed All-American honors with a seventh-place finish in the women's 3,000 racewalk. The junior finished the race in 27:16.88.
Junior Dennis Olstedt finished fifth in his heat of the 400 hurdles semifinals in a time of 54.04, missing out on qualifying for Saturday's finals.
The championships wrap up Saturday with Seth Lindquist in the triple jump, Ryan Matz in the marathon and Holly Haga in the discus.