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Clackamas hardballers get it done at Putnam

The Cavaliers are in the thick of things in the TRL title chase heading into this week's series with fourth-ranked West Linn
by: John Lariviere, Clackamas’ Nick Struck (2) completes a double play with a throw to first as Putnam’s Mike Henderson (11) is out at second base in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader.

MILWAUKIE - Clackamas High School's baseball team remains in the thick of things in the Three Rivers League title chase, after sweeping Putnam in three games played at Putnam on Friday and Saturday.

The sixth-ranked Cavaliers (15-5, 11-3) finished the week just back of fifth-ranked Lake Oswego (12-6, 9-2) and fourth-ranked West Linn (13-6, 9-2) in the league standings.

This week could be pivotal for the Cavaliers, as they were scheduled to battle West Linn in a three-game series.

'I think we're right where we want to be,' said Clackamas coach John Arntson. 'But this is going to be a big week for us. Two pretty good high school baseball teams are going to go at it. We're excited about it and I know they're excited about it too.'

All three games will likely be played at West Linn because of the field playing conditions at Clackamas. Through play Saturday the Cavaliers had played only one of their first 20 games on their home field.

The Cavaliers were dominant in last weekend's three-game series at Putnam. They out-hit the normally hard-hitting Kingsmen 32-16 in the three games. Clackamas pitchers struck out 22 Putnam batters.

The Cavaliers thumped the Kingsmen 13-1 on Saturday, after winning 7-2 and 8-3 in a Friday doubleheader.

The Cavaliers took charge of Saturday's game from the outset, scoring five runs in the first inning and 13 runs in the first three frames.

Nick Struck (3-for-4) cranked up his bat for two home runs. The senior shortstop had a grand slam home run and a three-run roundtripper. And he scored three times.

'We jumped on them early,' said Arntson. 'Nick Struck was huge with his bat and Ethan Bennett kept them off balance at the plate.'

Bennett, in his second varsity start, pitched the first six innings, striking out four and walking two, while scattering four hits.

Putnam's only run, scored in the seventh, was unearned.

Ben Parsons (2-for-4), Matt Nylen (2-for-4) and Ryan Cook (2-run double) all drove in runs, as the Cavaliers stung the ball for 10 hits.

Corey Davis and Ben Wetzler were big for the Cavaliers in Friday's opener. Davis capped off a five-run second inning with a grand slam home run. Wetzler pitched the first six frames, striking out nine, walking two and yielding five hits.

Nylen (2-for-4) and Spencer Weaver (2-for-3, double) had two hits apiece in a nine-hit offensive attack.

Parsons (4-for-5) and Davis (4-for-4) were sparkplugs in Friday's nightcap, when they combined for eight of the Cavaliers' 13 hits. Davis had two doubles and two RBI; Parsons drove in two runs.

'It helps when your top two guys get four hits [apiece],' said Arntson.

Parsons took over as Clackamas' leadoff batter midway through Friday's first game, when Alex Pearson left the game with a knee injury. Pearson, who plays centerfield, is the Cavaliers' leading baserunner, with 15 stolen bases and 17 runs scored in 18 games.

'Alex has been a sparkplug for us,' said Arntson. 'He's a heck of a loss. But I couldn't be happier with the way Ben has filled in. We were kind of flat after Alex got hurt, but Parsons really ignited us.'

Arntson said he did not know if Pearson's injury would allow him to return to the diamond this season. He said that Wetzler and Jon Walters have been playing centerfield in Pearson's absence.

In other TRL series last week, West Linn swept Milwaukie (1-0, 14-1 and 22-2) and Lake Oswego swept Lakeridge (15-2, 14-2 and 4-2).

Oregon City (11-7, 7-4) drew a league bye. In nonleague games, the Pioneers topped Mountain View of Vancouver 3-1 on Friday, but came up short at Tigard, losing 10-2, on Saturday.