The Hood River Valley High School varsity baseball season came to a close Wednesday with a 5-1 loss against the Ashland Grizzlies. The Eagles (13-13 overall) traveled to Ashland (17-9) for the first round of the OSAA State Championships, which it qualified for with a 9-1 play-in game victory last week against Milwaukie.
The Grizzlies, ranked fifth in the state, scored early with two runs in the first and two in the third to put Hood River on its heels in the single elimination playoff bracket.
“Ashland’s pitcher, Jamie Flynn, had us off balance from time to time and had great command of his pitches,” Coach Erich Harjo commented. “He did a good job of getting first pitch strikes. For us, Cody Walker threw a good enough game to win; we just couldn’t get timely hitting with guys on base. Ashland should go far in the playoffs.”
With the win, Ashland moved on to play fourth-ranked Sherwood High School in the quarterfinals. The loss for the Eagles means the end to what turned out to be a rollercoaster season that started with seven wins out of nine games, then turned south with seven losses out of nine games, then finished with five wins out of the final nine games.
“It was a season full of ups and downs,” Harjo said. “We saw a lot of growth from a few of our players as the season progressed and we beat some good teams this season. We are putting Hood River Valley baseball back on the map in the state of Oregon.”
Harjo extended thanks to seniors Julian Bridgeman, Lucio Alaniz, Cody Walker and Gabi Nuno, who have been with him since he took the position three seasons ago.
Next season looks to have several returning starters, including Kyle Beam, Ty Bofferding, Nick Weekly, Luke Kopecky and Ryan Colesar, who will be seniors, and Alix Jimenez, who will be a junior.
“We are definitely ready to make the adjustments we need to get over the hump in the middle of the season,” Harjo said. “Our strong points will be up the middle of the field and because we bring back six players out of our starting lineup; we bring back a lot of experience.”
Potential returners to the mound are Bofferding, Weekly and Jimenez, while Beam is expected to continue his role as anchor behind the plate for his final year as an Eagle.