Fourth-ranked Titans get bounced in the first round by Hilhi

Score one for the underdogs.

To outsiders, upsetting No. 4 West Salem in the first round of the Class 6A baseball state playoffs may have seemed a tall order for the No. 29 Hillsboro baseball team.

But not with Chase Kaplan around.

“When Chase is on the mound, we have a pretty good feeling that we’re going to win the ballgame, no matter who we’re playing against,” Hilhi coach Matt Bailie said.

The 6-foot-6 senior southpaw pitched a masterful effort on Monday, fanning 12 Titans in a complete-game performance on the mound while scattering five hits and six walks. He also helped himself at the plate by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs in a 5-1 victory, propelling the Spartans (12-14) into a second round game Wednesday at Westview. Results of that contest were not available at press deadline.

With the victory, the Spartans won a playoff game for the first time since the 2009 season, when they knocked off Churchill 3-2 in a pigtail contest before falling 9-8 to Bend in the round of 16.

“The boys were very excited,” Bailie said. “They did a little celebration on their field, which was fun to watch.”

Hilhi never trailed against West Salem (21-6), the Central Valley Conference champion, though it took some time to push any runs across the plate against starter Caleb Henry.

The Spartans finally broke through in the fifth inning.

With two outs and runners on second and third, Kaplan hit a ball to shallow left field that plated Josh McCullough. Then Austin Lutheran-Burt came home on a wild pitch while Brennyn Hobbs was batting. Hobbs soon accounted for Hilhi’s final run of the inning with a single to score Kaplan.

Kaplan gave himself yet more help in the sixth with an RBI single to left-center for a 4-0 Spartans lead. The visitors added one more run before the Titans finally managed to get on the board with Connor Mattison’s solo home run to center field.

Damon Peters added three hits for the Spartans.

The Hilhi/Westview winner is scheduled to play the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between No. 12 West Linn (17-11) at No. 5 Clackamas (20-7).

Check for playoff brackets and game times.

Kaplan signs to play baseball at Western Nevada College

Kaplan’s victory against West Salem was part of a busy seven-day span for the senior, dating back to last Tuesday. He went the distance that day in a 2-1 victory at South Salem that put the Spartans in the state playoffs.

A day later, he signed his National Letter of Intent with Western Nevada College, a junior college program that has made the NJCAA World Series three times, including as recently as 2012, and has sent about five dozen players on to the NCAA Division I level and some to the professional ranks.

“He wants to play at the highest level, and I think he thought (Western Nevada) would be the avenue to get to D-I and maybe get into the professional ranks at some time,” Bailie said.

Among his season highlights, Kaplan struck out 17 batters in an eight-inning game against The Dalles-Wahtonka and he threw two no-hitters in league play.

Postseason baseball recap

No. 28 Glencoe dropped a 4-1 decision at No. 5 Clackamas in the first round on Monday to end its season at 12-17.

Last Friday, Liberty lost a play-in game 2-0 at Hermiston to finish its season at 11-16. The Falcons won four of their last six games.

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