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Outlaws advance to AAA American Legion zone playoffs

The Clackamas team earns Zone 7's No. 3 berth in postseason play

The Clackamas Outlaws were playing some of their best baseball of the season heading into the AAA American Legion zone playoffs.

The Outlaws (D'Ambrosio Realtors) went 9-6 in league regular-season play, finishing second to Canby (10-5) in the East Division of Zone 7. And they swept Canby, 11-0 and 7-0, when the two teams met in a late-season doubleheader.

'Our pitching and defense have been very strong the last couple of weeks,' said Outlaws coach John Arntson. 'And we've had pretty strong hitting up and down the lineup all season.'

Pitching will likely be the key for the Outlaws in the zone playoffs, because all of the zone playoff games are nine-inning games.

'We've had a minor setback. Kyle Taylor, our No. 3 or 4 (pitcher) has some health issues, and he's doubtful [for the zone playoffs],' said Arntson. 'But we've still got four strong pitchers.'

Arntson said he's confident that senior-to-be Derek Davis, and juniors-to-be Nick Struck, Corey Davis and Jake Nolte can all get the job done on the mound.

The Outlaws looked sharp in last week's league playoffs, where they earned Zone 7's third seed into the Portland Metro area zone playoffs, defeating West Linn, the No. 3 team from the West Division, 5-2, and Lakeridge, the No. 2 team from the West Division, 10-4. West Division champion Lake Oswego and Canby were awarded Zone 7's top two zone playoff seeds, because of their first-place finishes in Zone 7 regular-season play.

Struck went the distance on the hill in last week's playoff game with West Linn, striking out four and walking one, while scattering seven hits.

Justin Sweet (2-for-3, 2 RBI) led the Outlaws at the plate, as seven different batters made contact for hits.

Corey Davis (5 hits) fanned eight batters in six innings against a Lakeridge team that sported a lineup dominated by graduated seniors. Derek Davis finished up, facing just four batters in an inning of relief.

The Outlaws hammered Lakeridge pitchers for 11 hits.

Leading the hit parade were Sweet (2-for-2), Struck (2-for-3, 3 RBI), Derek House (2-for-3, 2-run double, 4 RBI) and John Walters (2-for-4, RBI-double, 2 RBI).

The Outlaws met Zone 5 runner-up Grant in a best-of-three playoff series last weekend, splitting with the Generals. The winner of the final game of the series (scheduled Monday) will advance to the second round of the Legion playoffs, a best-of-three series, scheduled today through Friday.

A four-team playoff will follow on Saturday and Sunday, with the winner advancing to the AAA American Legion State Tournament. The state tournament will run Aug. 2-6 in Eugene.

The Outlaws sported a season record of 22-12 through play last Sunday, with wins in seven of their last nine games.