By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Grizzlies hold back Wolverines

KEIZER – The goal was to beat the Wolverines, but McMinnville baseball also found itself having to beat the clock.

The Class 6A Grizzlies led 6-0 in the top of the sixth inning but survived a ferocious comeback from Class 5A Willamette. When Mac sophomore Kade Mechals struck out Tyler Prescott of the Wolverines to end the inning and the game – 6-4, in six innings – Prescott represented the go-ahead run.

Willamette (1-2) would not get to bat in the seventh inning because the top of the sixth inning finished after 1 hour, 50 minutes of game play, the agreed-upon time limit for the contest.

“It was a little bit sloppy,” McMinnville coach Jordan Harlow said. “I think the guys got a little content. And you could see it – they knew. The coaching staff doesn’t have to tell them to get fired up.”

Drew Spence, the third pitcher of the game for McMinnville (3-0), started the top of the sixth inning with a 6-0 cushion and an early out. Two errors by third baseman Adrian Uscanga, a walk, an RBI single by Zach Bernard and a two-run single by John Kvanduch kept the pressure of the Grizzlies.

Mechals relieved Spence with two outs in the inning. Prescott was the only batter he faced.

“Drew threw strikes,” Harlow said. “We just didn’t back him up defensively.”

Uscanga’s two errors sullied an excellent night at the plate for the McMinnville junior. He drove in the first run of the game, singling to center field in the first inning and bringing Zach Rhoads home.

In the fourth inning, Uscanga’s two-run double was the exclamation point on a three-run inning that began when catcher Ryan Dix reached on a third baseman’s error.

“Tonight, his swing looked really good,” Harlow said of Uscanga. “He really filled in his role.”

Dix, who pitched one inning of one-hit ball in relief of Mac starter David Brosius, later scored on a wild pitch.

Brosius had an up-and-down day despite earning the win. He struck out five and allowed one hit and no runs in four innings pitched, but he walked six batters. The Wolverines, however, struggled to bring baserunners around, leaving 10 on base for the game.

“He’s a competitor,” Harlow said of Brosius. “He knows when he’s sharp and when he’s not. “He was behind a lot of hitters but did a nice job when he was behind. He’d bear down and get the job done.”

Rhoads and Mechals each hit RBI singles in the fifth inning to extend the Grizzlies’ lead. Rhoads finished the game 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored. Brosius, Dix, Jacob Bannister and Lane Hessel also had hits for the Grizzlies.

The game was delayed 1 hour and 40 minutes due to rain, with both teams assisting the Volcanoes Stadium grounds crew before the first pitch to get the field back in playable shape.

McMinnville played Summit Thursday and plays Cleveland today at 4:30 p.m. The tournament concludes Saturday against an opponent to be determined.

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