But Southridge stops a sweep by winning 12-2 on Saturday at Jesuit
by: MILES VANCE, SAFE – Southridge’s Mitch Mathews steals second base as Sunset shortstop Kevin Taylor takes a throw from Kerry Degman in the fifth inning of his team’s 8-2 Metro League win on Friday morning at West Linn High School.

WEST LINN - Sunset showed its potential in the first round of the Metro League baseball race, and Southridge showed just how tough it will be to get a sweep in the league's new three-game series format.

The Apollos took out the Skyhawks 1-0 at Sunset High School in their series opener last week, made it two in a row with an 8-2 win on Friday at West Linn High, but saw the Skyhawks storm back to take the finale 12-2 at Jesuit on Saturday.

Still, after taking the first two games against Southridge to win the series, the Apollos were feeling good about their efforts.

'We came focused, came ready to play and I think that's what it was,' said junior pitcher Dan Manus, who scattered five hits and two walks while striking out four in a complete-game victory on Friday. 'We were the more focused team today. It was a lot of fun.'

'They weren't playing the baseball that Southridge can play,' Sunset senior pitcher/first baseman D.J. Johnson said after the Friday win. 'One thing we really like to focus on is controlling the tempo of the game and when they saw that we were getting up and having fun playing the game, they got down. And we got ahead early and that helped.'

Friday's contest started with a bit of controversy too, when Skyhawk senior shortstop Trent Oleszczuk was ejected after a collision at the plate with Sunset catcher Kerry Degman while trying to score on a fly ball to right field.

'It just kind of jarred us. We weren't expecting it at all and no one agreed with the call,' said Southridge sophomore outfielder/pitcher Mitch Mathews, who went 1-for-3, scored once and drove in a run. 'Everybody was just mad and we weren't paying attention to the game. We just focused on that and it took our focus off the game and that was not a good idea.'

'They had some funny things happen in the first inning and I think it took a little wind out of their sails and we were able to capitalize,' said Sunset coach Korey Kier.

After Southridge's scoreless at-bat in the top of the first, Sunset scored twice in its half when Manus and Kevin Taylor drew back-to-back one-out walks and Johnson followed with a two-run double right-center field for a 2-0 lead.

The Apollos tacked on three more in the bottom of the second, again taking advantage of walks to David Hosmar and Kyle Chamberlain, a run-scoring single by Manus and a two-run opposite field single down the left field line by Taylor.

And that was more than enough support for Manus, who mixed a well-placed fastball and timely changeup to keep the Skyhawks at bay until they scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

'I sensed that (they were frustrated). It's kind of fun,' said Manus, who also went 3-for-3 at the plate, scored three runs and knocked in one. 'It tells me I'm doing a good job.'

'He had good control of his changeup today, and what's nice is we were able to throw 3-2 and 2-2 changeups,' Kier said.

'We just needed to adjust a lot sooner on our hitting than the fifth and sixth innings,' Southridge coach Don Fitzgerald said.

Mathews scored his team's first run in the fifth when he singled to center, stole second and scored on Jack Brock's double down the third base line. The Skyhawks added their other run in the sixth when Mitch Wise walked, Mitch Edwards and Kevin Coleman both singled and Mathews collected a sacrifice fly to center.

Sunset added its other three runs in the bottom of the fifth when Manus doubled to chase Skyhawk starter Alex Hope from the game, Taylor walked, Johnson doubled off the left field fence for one run, another came home on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Taylor and the last scored on Degman's single to center.

'Everyone just saw the ball well today,' said Johnson, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. 'We were finding gaps when we needed to, the baserunning worked really well today and we executed hit and runs, sac flies and sac bunts to move people over as a team today.'

'I really think we're a pretty good baseball team. We're just not showing it,' Fitzgerald said.

Taylor finished 1-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBIs. For Southridge, Edwards went 1-for-3 and scored once, while Brock went 1-for-3 and drove in one. Hope threw four innings, allowing six runs on five hits and four walks while striking out two. In addition, Sunset's Hosmar was ejected in the third inning for sliding into second base with his spikes too high.

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