Grizzlies taking some extra hacks

Offense had been hard to come by for the McMinnville baseball team through the first week of the spring season, but the Grizzlies turned a corner, it seems, in their last two games.

The Grizzlies (2-3) were outscored 19-4 in their first three games of the season but scored six and eight runs in their last two games, losing 8-6 vs. Wilsonville and beating North Eugene 8-3. The Grizzles were scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. today at Westview.

“We did a lot of extra hitting this week,” McMinnville coach Darren Bland said. “We’re trying to get back to the point where we can do some things.”

The Grizzlies ran into a top-tier Roseburg team March 15, losing 11-0 and getting four hits. The stretch was kind of expected Bland said, when you take into account who the Grizzlies have been playing. Bland wanted to schedule tough games for his team in the nonconference. Mac has been facing a lot of team’s No. 1 starting pitchers as well.

“Roseburg is a legitimate 6A state contender,” he said. “Their offense is dynamite.”

The Grizzlies played Monday vs. 5A Wilsonville, and Bland said the Wildcats are one of the better teams in their classification.

“We’re still facing some really good teams,” he said.

Mac fell behind 6-0 after five innings vs. Wilsonville but started to put something together in the top of the sixth, scoring three runs. The Grizzlies allowed two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, erasing some of the comeback, but Mac tacked on three more runs in the top of the seventh inning and had the bases loaded with two outs. Adrian Uscanga singled to lead off the inning, but things weren’t looking good for the Grizzlies after the next two batters struck out. Cooper singled, scoring Uscanga, and Cameron Fox added a single. A walk then a two-RBI double by Egli cut Wilsonville’s lead to 8-6.

David Brosius walked to re-load the bases, but Zach Rhoads struck out to end the game.

“I thought that showed a lot of fight,” Bland said of the Grizzlies continuing to press despite getting two quick outs in the top of the seventh inning. “That fight led to some good things Tuesday.”

The Grizzlies had seven hits Monday and followed that up with 13 Tuesday vs. North Eugene. Junior Gage Gubrud was on the mound for the second time this season and followed up his two-hit shutout vs. Central Catholic with 11 strikeouts vs. the Highlanders. Gubrud pitched five innings and allowed one run on three hits. He walked four batters.

The Grizzlies scored runs in every inning except the third but kept the pressure on North Eugene. Mac had 20 runners on base Tuesday, keeping Bland still a bit reserved in his optimism.

“The thing that immediately stands out is that we had 20 guys on base,” he said. “That means 12 guys didn’t score. It’s great we got eight, bud on a day like that when we had 20 on, we need to be putting up 12s and 13s.”

Gubrud also broke out of a mini-hitting slump to start the season. Gubrud didn’t have a hit in Mac’s first four games of the season but broke out for three Tuesday. He was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two doubles. Bland said Gubrud game has been focusing on his swing.

“He came in on Saturday and focused on his hitting,” Bland said. “He came in before school Monday and hit. He hit early Tuesday. I think getting out there and really focusing and trying to improve helps.

“Hopefully it shows these guys that you work a little extra and it will pay off.”

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