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Prep Watch

by: Dan Brood In a 4-2 state quarterfinal victory over Tualatin, Central Catholic senior shortstop Paul Bluhm goes up high to snare the ball on a pickoff attempt from junior catcher Ansel Webster. Tualatin’s runner is senior Austin Angle.

It has become somewhat standard for Portland Christian baseball to make a strong run at a state championship trophy. The Royals, who made it to the semifinals for the fifth year in a row, will play this weekend for their third state title in the five-year span. Portland Christian, ranked atop the Class 2A/1A ranks, beat host Heppner/Ione 11-2 in Tuesday’s semifinals. The Royals will meet Stanfield/Echo at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer for the state crown. Portland Christian lifted the trophy in 2007 and 2008. This year’s team went 18-0 in league play and is 25-3 overall. It split a season-opening doubleheader with Blanchet Catholic, a 3A playoff team, and dropped nonleague games to eventual 3A finalist Horizon Christian, 5-2 and 11-6. Tuesday’s win avenged a 3-1 loss to Heppner in the 2010 semifinals. Joshua Taylor, Portland Christian’s first-year head coach, says his club has been able to keep things loose this season. “It’s a lighthearted group,” Taylor says. “It’s been a lot of fun for everybody and hasn’t been a stressful season. We’ve talked a lot with the guys about character, and they’ve responded well.” And, he adds, “Honestly, we haven’t been in too many close games.” The competition has been better in the Oregon School Activities Association playoffs. Portland Christian opened with an 11-4 win over Joseph and then stopped Lowell/Mohawk 3-1. “We have a great defensive team, down to every position,” Taylor says. “It’s also a great hitting team with plenty of power. The more times we see your pitchers … we’ll make you pay.” Portland Christian has placed four players on the all-state team: infielders John Church and Keenan Rogers, catcher David Weaver and outfielder Stephen Feuerborn. All are seniors. Senior infielder Connor Oien made the third team, and junior infielder Brennan Miyazono was honorable mention all-state. “It’s been a great, great group, talent-wise,” Taylor says. Stanfield/Echo (23-5) also has been formidable. The Tigers advanced Tuesday with a 25-8 semifinal win at Union/Cove. In the quarterfinals, they beat Knappa, from the same league as Portland Christian, 15-5. OTHER PLAYOFFS: Westview rolled into the 6A final on Tuesday, beating Jesuit 18-0. The Wildcats (26-5) will go for the state title at 5 p.m. Saturday at Volcanoes Stadium against Central Catholic. … The Rams (25-6) won 4-1 Wednesday at Roseburg, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh inning. The 5A title game at 10 a.m. Saturday in Keizer will match Northwest Oregon Conference rivals Wilsonville and Sherwood, both 23-6. Wilsonville beat Sherwood 2-0 and 5-1 in the regular season as the teams finished 1-2 in their league. —Jon Fuccillo