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A blown call?

Cavaliers fall in extra innings

SALEM - The Clackamas Cavaliers have dropped a lot of close games in softball this spring, but none was more painful than their 1-0 loss to sixth-ranked South Salem on May 25 in the second round of the Class 6A state softball playoffs.

The Saxons won the game in the bottom of the 10th inning of a scheduled seven-inning game.

Using the international tiebreaker, South Salem started the 10th with a runner on second base. An error on a sacrifice bunt put runners on the corners.

The Saxons then attempted a first-and-third steal. There was miscommunication on the part of Clackamas players. In a designed play, the throw down to second was supposed to be cut off by Clackamas pitcher Sam Gutwig. But Gutwig let the ball go through, and the ball bounded into center field, allowing the winning run to score.

'At least I think that's the way it was scored,' said Clackamas coach Dom Giancola. 'I was in the parking lot, so I didn't see it.'

Giancola was ejected from the game following a controversial call in the sixth inning, a call that cost the Cavaliers the winning run.

With one out in the top of the sixth, Sarah Bigej doubled.

The next batter, Shelby Mauermann hit a ground ball on the first-base side of second. South's second baseman made a diving stop and made the play just in time for the out at first.

Bigej, who bats leadoff and has good wheels, had home plate on her mind as she left second base. But as she was rounding third base, Bigej and South Salem's third baseman collided, and Bigej was knocked to the ground.

Believing obstruction would be called on the Saxon infielder, Bigej got back to her feet and continued home. She was tagged out in a close play at the plate.

The umpire disallowed the out because of obstruction, but put Bigej back at third base, instead of awarding her home. The next Clackamas batter flew out to centerfield to end the inning.

'The third baseman was straddling the base [when the collision between the two players occurred] and Sarah was rounding third,' said Giancola. 'They should have given Sarah Bigej home on the obstruction, but the umpire only gave her third, because he said he didn't think she would have scored….

'In my opinion he missed the call. We should have won the game in the sixth inning….

'It is what it is, but they just blew the call. That call 99 percent of the time goes in favor of the runner…..'

The Cavaliers earned a 6-5 edge in hitting in the loss. Gutwig struck out eight batters and walked one in a complete game, while the Cavaliers only struck out three times.

The win advanced the Saxons (22-5) to a May 27 quarterfinal game with third-ranked Redmond (26-2), while the loss ended the season for the Cavaliers (14-13, 9-6).

'That's the second straight year we've lost in the playoffs through the international tiebreaker,' Giancola said. 'I think they need to do away with the international tiebreaker. They don't break ties in any other sport that way. They don't have you shoot free throws to decide the winner in basketball.'

Ranked 23rd in the state entering the state playoffs, the Cavaliers advanced to the second-round game with the Saxons through a 6-2 first-round win over 11th-ranked McMinnville.

Trailing 2-1, the Cavaliers put the Grizzlies away with a four-run fifth-inning rally.

Jen Behunin rapped a two-run double and Gutwig rapped a two-run single in the big inning.

Gutwig threw a 4-hitter, striking out six.

With only two seniors - second baseman Shelby Mauermann and outfielder Thea Reiner - in the starting lineup, Giancola is hopeful the Cavaliers will have better luck next season.

'I would hope that we would continue to get better,' he said. 'But we've got to be more dedicated in the off-season, getting our kids in the cages and in the weight room.'

Among underclassmen starting in last week's game with the Saxons were: Gutwig (pitcher), Bigej (catcher), Mariah Scholes (first base), Allie Anderegg (shortstop), Behunin (third base), Missy Noble (left field) and Sydney Wilson (centerfield).

Bigey (.435, 9 extra-base hits, 15 runs scored) was Clackamas' leading hitter on the 2011 season.

Mauermann (.372), Reiner (.378), Scholes (.359), and Wilson (.323) also had batting averages over .300.

Gutwig (9-6) had a 1.9 ERA, with 98 strikeouts, 28 walks and 74 hits in 103 innings.