As difficult as it is to make it to the OSAA baseball state championship semifinals, No. 2 Henley made it look effortless when it opened up an 11-0 lead after the third inning against the No. 7 Banks Braves Friday.
The defending state champion Hornets withstood a Banks rally of seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings to make it to the semifinals for a rare sixth straight year and won, 16-7.
The pitching of sophomore Hayden Rasica was a moment to make up for the last time he pitched in a game when he gave up eight runs in the first inning to Hidden Valley in a contest which decided the Skyline Conference.
Rasica gave up no hits until Banks' Trask Applegate connected on a single in the top of the third inning.
Sophomore Hayden Vandehey then followed with a single, with both players moving to third and second base before Rasica ended the inning on a Casey McGough strikeout.
Rasica gave up just the two hits, walked no players and had four strikeouts in his four innings.
"I tend to get ahead and like to get the first batters out," Rasica said. "It was really nice to come back after the last time I pitched. I wanted the ball in this game and I am glad I got it and threw well."
Senior Tyler Pettigrew had the brilliant day for Henley and went 4-for-4 in the matchup, and had two triples.
Pettigrew's triple in the bottom of the second inning gave Henley a 5-0 advantage. He tripled again in his next at bat and made the score, 8-0.
The bottom third inning saw hitting become contagious with three straight RBI singles started by J.T Overstreet, Blake Loney and ended by Kyle Hadwick, which gave Henley its 11th run.
"It is really great to have our offense and our defense doing so well right when we need it to be," Pettigrew said. "I think it is great that we are clicking right now."
Vandehey continued to trouble the Hornets when they thought the game was in hand and finished 3-for-4, all his hits being singles.
His RBI single started scoring for the Braves in the top of the fifth inning. McGough followed with a two RBI single to put pressure on Henley's relief pitcher Blake Loney, who came in with the bases loaded.
Gunnar Partain started scoring in the ensuing inning for Banks with a base hit that scored Justin Bral, while Vandehey had his second RBI in the next play to bring home Kylan Taylor.
A hit by senior Trevor Thiessen helped bring hope and brought the Braves the closest, 12-7.
Overstreet has been on a hot streak as of late and hit his second home run in consecutive games when his hit went over the rightfield wall for his third homer of the year. Overstreet finished 3-for-4, which included a two RBI triple to score his team's first two runs.
After winning the Cowapa League at 12-3, the Braves finished 17-7 overall this season.
Henley will now host Philomath in a rematch of the state championship game last year Tuesday. Game time is to be determined.
"It makes my job easy when Tyler and Nate (Austin) help me. I was able to elevate it and hit it pretty hard on the home run. We just want to focus on something that we can control," Overstreet said.
"We just want to go out there and play how we know we can play and hopefully that is good enough to win games."