It was pure déjà vu, a trap game for Henley baseball.
All the Hornets wanted to do was get out of Friday’s OSAA Class 4A state quarterfinal game with a victory, however it may have looked.
After falling short two years ago in the state championship game, the Hornets were not pleased with a quarterfinal exit last season.
After running into some trouble versus Philomath/Alsea, the Hornets overcame their nightmare by moving onto the semifinals for the sixth time in the last seven years and beat the Warriors, 9-4.
Junior Heith Rasica is on a groove he cannot control.
After having two home runs in his team’s first round state playoff game Wednesday, Rasica came back with another memorable performance.
He was the team’s energy bunny on both sides of the baseball. Rasica’s two-run homer in the bottom fifth inning helped give Henley a cushion of five runs it desperately wanted.
No one likely remembers last year’s loss to Junction City in the quarterfinals more than Rasica, who finished the game on the mound for Henley.
He threw a complete game in the team’s first-round game but was allowed to throw 45 times against Junction City. Rasica came in the game with his team behind, 10-8, in the top seventh inning before the Hornets lost, 11-8.
“We were disappointed. I remember being in that game last year trying to help our team win and how bad it felt,” Heith Rasica said. “We wanted to get back here and forget about that. Now we just want to keep going.”
The Warriors opened the game with a statement when Brooks Stearns hit a two-run home run.
Henley had an immediate response and moved through its lineup in a heartbeat.
Andrew Reynolds walked, and Hayden Rasica followed with a single. Heith Rasica’s sacrifice fly then scored Reynolds, which was followed by a RBI single from John Tacchini.
Tacchini was then scored by the RBI single of Jagger Graham.
Henley kept the attack going in the ensuing inning.
Senior Blake Loney put himself on base with a double.
Heith Rasica continued an RBI single that brought home Loney. Tacchini made sure to not leave Rasica stranded and scored him on a double.
The Warriors made the game interesting with two runs in the top third inning. A sacrifice fly by Dylan Bennett and a RBI double from Marshall Brattain inched them closer.
The Hornets grew tense in their dugout for two innings before the Rasica brothers brought some insurance.
Trevor Rote was walked to start the bottom fifth, which was followed by a single from Reynolds. Hayden Rasica calmed his teammates heartbeats when he sent a hit to the center field wall that scored Rote and Reynolds.
“The score was 5-4, and we had runners on third and second and I did not want to do too much. I knew if I put the ball in play, good things would come. That is exactly what I did, and hit it into the outfield and scored those runs, simply going up there and doing my job,” Hayden Rasica said.
“After scoring those runs with my hit and Heith getting his, I thought it brought their team down and sunk them into the ground after that.”
With three balls and one strike and his older brother on second base, a loud pop came from the bat of Heith Rasica that went over the leftfield fence.
“Oh, it felt great. It always does, that is for sure, especially getting those runs to put us ahead,” Heith Rasica said. “I just wanted to give us that extra cushion because it was a close game right there. I wanted it to be more safe going into that last inning.”
Junior Dylan Fitts started the game for Henley and allowed seven hits, walked one batter and had two strike outs.
Heith Rasica came in the top fourth inning after a single came from Adam Hernandez.
Rasica proved to be too much on the mound and did not allow a single run or hit the rest of the way. He ended the game with six strike outs.
Henley will play a red-hot No. 14 Astoria team Tuesday (14-10 overall), which beat No. 3 North Marion, 2-1, in the first round before an 8-1 defeat of No. 11 Sweet Home in the quarterfinals.