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Spartans head into baseball semifinal showdown after upset against Clackamas


This Cinderella story just keeps getting better.

by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Hillsboro pitcher Chase Kaplan (12) celebrates after the Spartans 2-1 win over Clackamas in the 6A baseball quarterfinals at Clackamas High School.
Photo by Jaime ValdezThe Hillsboro baseball team pulled off yet another postseason upset on Friday, this time a 2-1 comeback victory at Clackamas to win a spot in the Class 6A state semifinals. With the win, the No. 29-seeded Spartans turned back their third top-15 opponent in five days, as well as their second top-five foe of the postseason.

“We came up with a pair of clutch hits to score both of our runs, and Chase (Kaplan) wiggled out of some trouble there in the third,” Hilhi coach Matt Bailie said Friday evening after his club had posted its fifth consecutive win.

Hilhi advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1993, a year in which the Spartans won the state championship. To make Saturday’s state final, the team is tasked with unseating Sheldon (22-8), last year’s titlist. The Spartans travel to Eugene Tuesday afternoon to take on the No. 8 Irish. First pitch is at 5 p.m.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Hillsboro's Cody Parmelee slides into home plate for the game-winning run against Clackamas catcher Brett Peterson for a run in the 6A baseball quarterfinals at Clackamas High School.

If Hilhi (14-14) can pick up a win against Sheldon, it will become the lowest seeded Class 6A team to advance to the championship game since the OSAA started using rankings in playoff brackets in 2011. Oregon City won the 2012 title as one of four No. 6 seeds in that year’s bracket (meaning the Pioneers were ranked between 21st and 24th).

“We’re ranked 29th, but that’s just a number,” Kaplan said. “We can beat anybody if we’re hot, and we came out, we did just that. We battled, and we won.”

Sheldon’s high profile should not faze the Hilhi much. In the Cavaliers (21-8), the Spartans knocked out the 2013 state runners-up. In a pitchers’ duel between Kaplan and Jared Bell, the home team did score first, picking up a run in the third, but the Hilhi defense closed out the inning with a double play, and its offense had an immediate answer in the top of the fourth on an RBI single to left field by Brennyn Hobbs.

“For my team to have my back and show me what they did tonight, it was just amazing,” Kaplan noted. “They took it in the right way. They just used that to their advantage. That just fired them up even more.”

Kaplan, who has pitched three of the Spartans’ four postseason contests heading into Tuesday’s semifinal, was lights-out after allowing an RBI single to left field for Clackamas’ run Friday. The big senior left-hander retired every batter he faced the rest of the way.

That performance allowed the offense to find a way to scratch out one more run, which the Spartans did in the seventh inning on a clutch hit by Damon Peters.

Cody Parmelee started the scoring sequence with a single to center with one out, and then Evan Leglar put down a bunt that ended up counting as a hit when it stopped on the foul line.

Then Peters, the team’s trusty leadoff hitter as just a sophomore, sent a line drive to left field to score Parmelee for what turned out to be the game-winner.

“He’s been clutch all year,” Bailie said. “He’s been hitting in our leadoff spot. He’s been a catalyst here in the playoffs.”

As the Spartans have kept accumulating playoff wins, more alumni have been turning out, including members of that 1993 championship team, Bailie said. He knows all about that state-title run, as he was a junior on that squad. Twenty-one years later, he sees shades of 1993 in this season’s team.

“We were kind of very similar in that we were lower in the standings,” Bailie said. “We just got hot at the right time. We played a couple games to get into the playoffs and then just ran with it.

“These guys, they’re just coming up clutch when we need them to. Everybody from one to nine is contributing.”

If that continues Tuesday, the Spartans might just be playing one more time this spring – this time for it all – on Saturday.