Fifth-inning home run is enough to lift Southridge to the playoff win

by: THE OUTLOOK: PARKER LEE - Reynolds Jake Erdman dives back to first base under the glove of Southridge first baseman David Knudsen. Erdman was called out on the play despite appearing to touch in under the tag. TROUTDALE — Southridge pitcher Reza Aleaziz flaunted his power at the plate and on the mound as he led the Skyhawks to a 3-0 victory at Reynolds in the opening round of the 6A state playoffs on Monday. The Southridge senior blasted a home run and threw a four-hit shutout to eliminate the Raiders from the tournament.

Reynolds pitcher Joseph Palmisano was locked in an early pitchers’ duel with Aleaziz, and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Aleaziz broke up the no-no and the scoreless tie with an opposite-field homer to lead off the fifth.

Off the bat, the deep fly ball from Aleaziz didn’t look like it was gone. He seemed to get under the pitch on the outer-half of the plate and Reynolds right fielder Jake Erdman looked like he was going to catch the ball. Erdman and the Raiders were shocked when it carried over the fence.

Southridge scored on Palmisano twice more in the sixth inning, thanks to a pair of doubles. Palmisano allowed just three hits in six innings of work, but all three were critical.

“He left two pitches up, and that’s going to happen. That’s baseball,” Reynolds coach Kyle Swoboda said. “He battled for us, and we knew at the beginning of the season that he would always come out and battle.”

On offense, Reynolds had its chances to get to Aleaziz. In the first inning, Erdman led off with a walk. While leading off from first base, Erdman got a little too far off the bag and Southridge catcher Tanner Green threw behind him. The throw beat Erdman, but Southridge first baseman David Knudsen bobbled the ball as he attempted to make the tag. Even with the juggle, Erdman was called out.

In the third inning, Erdman sliced a double down the first base line and scooted to third base on a wild pitch. With one out, Alec Dehnert tapped a grounder to second base and Erdman was off on contact. The Southridge second baseman fired home quickly to cut off the run. Erdman saw he had no chance to score and tried to retreat back to third, but he got caught in a rundown and was tagged out.

“I think we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit,” Swoboda said. “We could have taken advantage of a few opportunities and scored early. It might have changed the game if we had scored a few runs early on.”

The Raiders had one more shot to get back in the game when they loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs, Cameron Sheets ripped a hard line drive to right field, but it was right at the Southridge outfielder and the inning was over.

Reynolds finished the season with a record of 20-7 and won its first conference championship in more than a decade. While the sting of disappointment is still strong, the Raiders believe they have started to build a program that will contend consistently.

“We are trying to get to the point where we reload, and we hopefully we can do that,” Swoboda said. “These seniors definitely laid the groundwork and showed the younger guys what it takes and what we need to do to sustain success.”

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