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Aleaziz dominates, Skyhawks on to semis

Southridge ace deals stellar outing


The team with the most natural ability wasn't advancing to the 6A baseball state semifinals — though make no mistake, Southridge has a truckload of gifted specimens.

No, the victorious squad from Friday's quarterfinal contest between Lake Oswego and Southridge would be the team and pitcher with the biggest tickers beating in their chests.

Ultimately, in a win-or-go-home scenario with final four implications, that unit was the surging Skyhawks and their unafraid, unshrinking ace Reza Aleaziz. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge pitcher Reza Aleaziz threw a complete game three-hitter against Lake Oswego in the 6A quarterfinals to help the Skyhawks win 2-1.

In a pitchers' duel where runs were precious, Aleaziz put out a masterpiece, throwing a three-hit, seven-strikeout complete game effort. The Skyhawks were able to scrounge together two pivotal runs early in a 2-1 instant classic that sent Southridge to the 6A semis against Clackamas.

“I feel like if you have heart, that beats talent nine times out of 10,” said second baseman Alex Beekman. “Today our bats weren't really there for us, but I feel like our heart was a lot bigger than our skill level. As long as you believe in what you can do, you'll always come out on top.”

The star players in high-stakes games have to come through for communal success, and when his team looked to him, Aleaziz was more than willing to carry the burden.

“It's not always his pitching that wins the game, it's just that he has a bigger heart than everyone else,” said senior shortstop Jacob Zanon. “He definitely goes out and competes every game. We know we're in good hands when Reza is on the mound.” by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge senior shorstop Jacob Zanon reached on an infield single and later scored the go-ahead run for the Skyhawks in their 2-1 6A quartefinal win over Lake Oswego.

Zanon's moxie in the bottom of the third engineered what in the long run ended up being the winning score. With two outs, the game tied 1-1 and Zanon on second base, Chandler Whitney hit a sharp grounder that was fielded plainly by Lake Oswego's shortstop. But, Whitney busted down the line, beat the throw to first, and Zanon took off around third with head coach Joe Monahan madly waving his left arm around, screaming “two-out groundball rule!”

Arguably the fastest Skyhawk on the team, Zanon punched the NOS button and hightailed it home as the crowd rose its feet. Though Lake Oswego's throw from first beat him to the plate, the heave was low, and the senior slid home safely for the go-ahead score, 2-1.

“I knew as soon as the ball hit the bat I'd be scoring at home,” said Zanon. “I went full speed around third and knew I was going to get there. All these games are going to be low-scoring, and we found a way to win today.”

Catcher Tanner Green came up with a clutch two-out RBI in the first after Whitney whittled a single to left. Down 0-2 in the count, Green expected a pitch in the dirt, something he couldn't drive so the senior backstop protected at the plate, put a short swing on the low offering and stroked it into left for the first run of the game.

“That was crucial and a really good feeling to have in a close game,” said Green. “The tension of the game was ridiculously crazy and a lot of people don't get to feel that very much. You have to come through adversity and keep going.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge catcher Tanner Green and pitcher Reza Aleaziz talk about how to attack Lake Oswego in the fourth inning of the Skyhawks 2-1 quarterfinal win.

The senior backstop probably had the best seat in the house to Aleaziz's standout day on the hill.

Nerves hindered Aleaziz in the first three innings as the senior gave up three hits, two walks and an unearned run off a wild pitch. But around the fourth stanza after the Lakers nearly scored on another wild pitch, the towering workhorse tamed his demoniacal slider and got into a tireless tempo that immobilized Lake Oswego's bats.

“You're kind of doing the same thing every time, and I felt like that was the difference between the later part of the innings and the first part,” said Aleaziz. “My first three innings I wasn't in a rhythm. Each pitch was different, but I got in a groove and that's what pitching is all about.

Aleaziz rarely offered the Lakers' dicey hitters anything appealing down the plate, in favor of flicking sliders on the corners and off-speed stuff that was tough to get a solid swing on. Aleaziz annihilated the bottom of Lake Oswego's order with his customary 90 mph fastball and controlled his pitch count versus the Laker featherweights with an economical strategy of attacking.

His teammates made critical plays for him too. In the second inning with the scored deadlocked 1-1 and a Laker on third base, Green corralled a wild pitch behind the dish and flipped it to a covering Aleaziz to save a run and tally the third out.

In the sixth, Lake Oswego reached on a throwing error, but Zanon and Beekman turned a tailor-made double play that liquidized the upturn.

“My teammates were big for me,” said Aleaziz. “My goal those last four innings was just to get outs pitch-by-pitch, out-by-out, and I feel like it worked. I love pitching these games because you get a lot of energy, feed off the crowd. Our crowd was the biggest I've seen this year, and that's what you play this game for. No matter what the outcome is, that's why I play baseball, and I'm really glad I'm in the situation now.”




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