Grant rallies twice, stays alive
- Cliff Pfenning
- Portland Tribune - Sports
The Grant Generals are the comeback kids of the state baseball playoffs.
Grant rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the fifth inning to beat David Doug-las 3-2 on Monday, then beat Klamath Union 8-4 in eight innings on Wednesday.
The Generals are scheduled to play Newberg in the quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. today at Grant.
Seniors John Fisher and Matt Hibbitts took turns in the role of hero in the opening rounds.
Fisher doubled home Gabe Chase in the seventh to provide the winning run Monday before 300 sun-baked, barbecue-toting fans at Grant.
Hibbitts homered on a 3-2 count in the top of the seventh to tie Klamath 4-4 at Kiger Stadium in Klamath Falls. Hibbitts also hit a two-run triple in the eighth, after Fisher had hit a two-run double. Hibbitts also pitched two innings in relief of Fisher and picked up the win.
'We're playing some exciting games,' Grant coach Rob Kennewell says. 'It's been like this at the end of the season for us.'
Hibbitts is slated to start on the mound against Newberg.
The Generals' 20-hour round trip to Klamath Falls ended at 3:30 a.m. Thursday, Kennewell says. Fortunately for most of his players, Wednesday was the last day for seniors at Grant, so those players were able to sleep in Thursday.
Newberg features starting pitcher Dallas Buck, who helped the Tigers reach the state title game last season. Buck, interestingly, qualified for the state track meet in the high jump and long jump but withdrew from those events after his baseball team's 12-4 win over Lakeridge on Wednesday.
MORE BASEBALL: Central Catholic had less playoff luck closer to home with a 16-0 loss to Southridge at Sckavone Field in Southeast Portland. The Rams had two hits in the first inning but went hitless thereafter.
Southridge, the defending state champion, pounded out 17 hits and scored seven runs in the fifth. And the Skyhawks have just five seniors on their 18-player roster. 'They're a great young team,' Central Catholic junior Kyle Moore says. 'We came out a little lazy, and they jumped on us.'
Moore says he thought the Rams would rally.
'We came back in a lot of games from big deficits, and I thought that would happen here, too,' he says.
Moore will be a key player for the Rams next season beginning with football, where he is a candidate to start at quarterback. He also plays basketball. And the American Legion baseball season begins with a tournament at David Doug-las on Saturday.
'My summer is going to be jampacked,' he says.
SOFTBALL: PIL teams went 0-4 in the state playoffs, but two of the games weren't decided until the seventh inning. Franklin gave up a pair of runs in the top of the seventh and lost 3-1 to Hermiston at Delta Park on Monday. Benson also gave up two runs in the seventh and lost 4-2 to Lake Oswego on an adjacent field at the Delta Park softball complex.
Benson's loss was tough to take because the Techsters muffed an infield pop-up with two out in the seventh, allowing the winning runs to score.
Sophomore pitcher Rachel Davis says the loss will hang with her through next season.
'It's going to be good motivation for next year,' she says. 'We can win, we just need to have some awesome bats in our lineup and believe that we can win.'
Davis and five other Techsters play for the same summer league team.
Franklin was 2 feet away from having a chance to tie its game. With runners at first and second and two out in the seventh, junior shortstop Jen Speakmon roped a line shot down the first-base line that went all the way to the outfield wall. But it was foul by 2 feet. She lined out on the next pitch to end the game.