Grant Union def. Vernonia 10-4
JOHN DAY - In what has become almost a common occurrence at early-season baseball games in Grant County, intermittent snow showers greeted the Prospectors in their opening game of the annual Pioneer Bank Hardball Classic against Vernonia at Malone Field on Thursday, March 27.
A damp infield resulted in Prospector head coach Art Thunell and his players having to spread quick dry around the base paths prior to the game and by the time starter Devin Burril delivered his first pitch, the white stuff had begun to fall.
However, the chilly temperatures did nothing to cool off the Grant Union bats, and the Prospectors jumped all over Vernonia starting pitcher Travis Gwin in the first inning scoring five runs.
As things turned out, that would be all the runs the Pros would need to win their fourth straight game, 10-4.
Burril was tough in his first outing of the season, striking out the side in the opening inning.
The junior right-hander pitched the first four innings throwing a total of 61 pitches while striking out four and giving up just one hit.
In the Grant Union half of the first, Matt Curtis drew a lead off walk and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches.
Bo Thunell knocked in the first run of the game with a single, and Trevor Simmons reached base on a fielder's choice which sent Thunell to second.
Brandon Hueckman followed with a double off the left fielder's glove, the first of his four hits on the day, to plate Thunell and Simmons, and the Prospectors were off and running.
With two out, Cody Frazier was hit with a pitch to put runners on first and third, and a double steal brought Hueckman home with the fourth run of the inning.
Frazier scored the final run when Loggers' second baseman Jamey Maller booted Taylor Schmadeka's ground ball.
Grant Union scored two more in the third inning when Billy Colson crossed the plate on Toby Thomas's infield out, and Frazier put the seventh run on the board on a dropped pop-up.
Frazier made the score 8-0 singling home Hueckman in the bottom of the fourth.
Cruising along with an 8-0 lead, Thunell replaced Burril on the mound in the fifth inning and got into trouble.
With two out and a runner on first, he gave up back-to-back singles to Ed Olstedt and Mat Kelly to load the bases with Loggers and bring up Gwin.
On a 3-2 count with two out and the runners in motion, Gwin fulfilled the dream of every player when they pick up a bat and think about playing baseball for the first time. He drove a pitch over Grant Union center fielder Kyle Myers' head out and of the ball park for a grand slam home run to make the score 8-4.
With the lead cut in half, Grant Union answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth on a single by Hueckman and an infield out by Myers to up the lead to 10-4.
Colson took over on the mound and pitched the final two innings for Grant Union, shutting the Loggers out.
Gwin had two hits and four RBI to lead Vernonia's eight-hit attack.
Hueckman had three RBI to go with his four hits and Thunell was 3-for-3 as part of Grant Union's nine hits.
In other first-round games, La Salle topped Marist 9-1, Burns was an 11-1 winner over Molalla in six innings, Glide defeated LaPine 13-3 in five innings, La Salle won 8-6 over Stayton and Rainier beat Sisters 6-3.
Grant Union def. Molalla 10-0
JOHN DAY - Brandon Hueckman pitched a strong game in his first start of the season on Friday, March 28, and the Grant Union Prospectors defeated Molalla 10-0 in the second round of the Pioneer Bank Hardball Classic.
The game was called after six innings of play on the 10-run rule, and boosted the Prospectors' record to 5-1 in preseason games.
Hueckman gave up a double to Josh Ohta with one out in the first inning, which turned out to be the Indians' only hit of the game.
"Brandon threw the ball real well for us today and we made the defensive plays behind him," Grant Union coach Art Thunell said.
After Ohta's double, Hueckman picked him off second base and then retired the next 15 Molalla batters in order before giving up a walk to Paul Tice with two out in the sixth inning.
Hueckman threw a total of just 62 pitches in the six-inning contest.
Grant Union scored a single run in the first inning on a leadoff walk to Matt Curtis a balk and Hueckman's one-out single.
The Indian's defense went south in the second inning when Grant Union put up four additional runs on just two hits, a walk and three errors to take a 5-0 lead.
"We're not swinging (the bat) like I'd like us to," Thunell said. "We didn't make a lot of quality outs in this game. There was just one time where we hit the ball hard and made what I'd call a quality out. We're trying to jack the ball and pull the ball too much."
The shaky Molalla defense led to another run in the fifth inning when Billy Colson scored via a throwing error on a double steal, and the Prospectors put an end to the game with four runs in the sixth inning.
In the sixth, Curtis led off with his third walk of the game and Bo Thunell followed with a single up the middle which hit the bag at second base and bounced high in the air, sending Curtis to third.
With Eli McClure running for Thunell, Trevor Simmons singled to right field on the hit-and-run scoring Curtis and sending McClure to third.
Hueckman was then hit with a pitch to load the bases, and pinch hitter Anthony Harper singled off the second baseman's glove through the drawn-in infield for the second run of the inning.
Pinch hitter Kerry Ashmead dropped a bloop single to center field to bring in Simmons, and Hueckman scored the final run of the game on Geoff Brown's infield out.
"We finally started to relax and execute in the sixth inning," coach Thunell said. "Early in the game we were not executing, but in the last inning we were able to execute on a couple of hit-and-run plays."
Frazier was 2-for-3 to lead Grant Union's nine-hit attack. Curtis scored three runs and Colson crossed the plate twice.
In other Friday tournament games, Rainier was a 3-0 winner over La Pine, Glide defeated Vernonia 8-2, Marist clubbed Burns 13-0, Glide beat Stayton 12-4 and Sisters took a 16-8 victory over La Salle.
JOHN DAY - Grant Union's bats heated up in the final round of the Pioneer Bank Hardball Classic on Saturday, March 29.
In the opening game, the Prospectors pounded out 16 hits, including seven for extra bases, rolling to a 14-4 victory over Glide in a game called after five innings on the 10-run rule.
In the nightcap the Prospectors posted an 11-7 victory over La Salle to complete the tournament with a 4-0 record, and lift their preseason record to 7-1.
Grant Union def. Glide 14-4
Glide tallied three runs in the top of the first inning off Prospector starting pitcher Matt Curtis before the junior right-hander settled down.
Curtis gave up back-to-back walks to Dan Cox and Brandt Pedersen before cleanup batter Taylor Skinner slapped a single inside the bag at third to drive in the first Wildcat run.
After Jason Reed flew to right field for the second out of the inning, Brian Halter scored Pedersen with a single.
Brian O'Dell collected the third run-scoring single for Glide, but the inning ended when Grant Union left fielder Jeb Williams cut down Halter trying to advance to third base.
The Prospectors came right back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Curtis led off with a walk and Thunell smacked a double to center field to put runners on second and third.
Simmons then struck out on a pitch in the dirt, but Glide catcher O'Dell threw the ball wildly over first baseman Brad Morris's head to score Curtis and send Thunell to third.
Thunell crossed the plate with the second Prospector run on Hueckman's infield out to make the score 3-2.
In the second inning, Grant Union put four runs on the board to take the lead for good.
Frazier tied the game drilling a lead off home run deep over the fence in center field, and Geoff Brown reached base on a fielding error.
Thomas doubled to put Prospector runners on second and third, and Curtis followed with a double to the 310 marker in left field good for two runs and a 5-3 lead.
With one out, Simmons drove in Curtis with another double to put the Pros up 6-3.
Glide scored its final run of the game in the third inning on a hit batter and back-to-back singles by Skinner and Reed.
In the Grant Union half of the third, the Prospectors sent 11 batters to the plate scoring five runs.
Grant Union collected six hits in the inning and were helped along by a pair of Glide errors to push the lead to 11-4.
The Prospectors put the game away with three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, and Curtis retired the side in order in the top of the fifth to seal the victory and pick up his second pitching win of the young season.
Curtis was also 4 for 4 at the plate with four runs scored and three RBI. Simmons was 2 for 4 with three RBI, Thunell was 2 for 4 with two runs knocked in, and Brown had a 2 for 3 game at the plate.
Skinner had two hits for Glide.
Grant Union def. La Salle 11-7
The nightcap of Saturday's twin bill started out to be a walk in the park for Grant Union as the Prospectors took an 8-2 lead after two innings against La Salle.
In the opening inning four walks, a Thunell double and a two-run single by Taylor Schmadeka put the Prospectors on top 4-0.
La Salle countered with a pair of runs in the top of the second on a double by Mike Wetherbee, but Grant Union answered with four more runs in the bottom of the second on a pair of two-run doubles by Hueckman and Myers to give starting pitcher Simmons an 8-2 lead.
In the third inning, the Falcons began to turn on the power.
Byron Ragasa led off the third inning with a solo home run to shave the lead to 8-3, and a pair of two-run blasts by Ty Eriksen and Chris Huiard in the fourth inning cut the Prospectors' lead to 8-7.
Kerry Ashmead replaced Simmons on the mound with two out in the fourth inning, and the sophomore hurler put out the fire without any further damage.
Grant Union came back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning when Thunell connected for his first home run of the year, dropping the ball just inside the foul pole and into the nets down the left field line for an 11-7 lead.
Ashmead pitched a strong game for the remainder of the contest, giving up just two hits to earn the save.
Thunell was 3 for 3 with three RBI as part of the Grant Union seven-hit attack. Myers was 2 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and three RBI.
Ragasa had four hits for La Salle.
In other Saturday games, Rainier defeated Burns 6-1, Marist topped Molalla 11-5, La Pine picked up a 9-8 win over Stayton and Sisters put Vernonia away in five innings 17-7.
Grant Union opens Wapiti League play at Halfway on Saturday, April 5, for a noon doubleheader against Pine Eagle.