The defending Class 6A champion Crusaders bounce back from season-opening loss

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Lakeridge second baseman Clint Smith tries to corral a throw as Jesuit's John Arndorfer steals second base during the Crusaders' 3-0 home win on Thursday.The sun broke through the clouds.

The crack of the bat rang through the air.

And the boys of spring got their first moment in the spotlight.

The Lakeridge and Jesuit baseball teams got all that and more on Thursday, the Crusaders eventually pulling away to win 3-0 in non-league action at Jesuit High School.

"It felt incredible. It's the first time I've been back in a while so it was unreal, especially with all the senior guys out there," said Jesuit senior third baseman Matthew Kilpatrick, who handled one chance successfully in his return to varsity play after tearing his ACL prior to the 2016 season. "The weather was very nice. We were just happy to get a game in."

"It's always hard to get the first win so it was nice to come out and get it today," said Jesuit senior center fielder John Arndorfer, who went 1 for 2 at the plate, walked once, knocked in one run and scored another. "It was nice to scrape a few runs across and get a few hits. It felt great."

The win evened Jesuit's non-league record at 1-1 and helped the Crusaders shake off the 15-1 drubbing West Linn gave them in their opener two days earlier. The Pacers, meanwhile, hit the field for the first time and fell to 0-1.

Despite the loss, the Pacers were just happy to be on the field after struggling to find practice time in rain-soaked March.

"I can't even imagine getting weather like this," said senior first baseman Tommy Andrew, who went 1 for 3 at the plate on Thursday. "It was just nice to get out and feel the sun on your back as you play one of the greatest games ever known."

The day's starting pitchers — Jesuit freshman McLean Abel and Lakeridge senior Everest Webster — held the upper hand at the start of Thursday's contest. Webster allowed just one baserunner in the day's first two innings, threw 3 1/3 innings and gave up just two hits, two walks and one run while striking out five.

"I felt great. It's the start of the season so to go three and a quarter innings, it felt great," Webster said. "My curveball worked great today — it was actually going to the outside corner perfectly — and then I was just throwing the fastball, and moving it in and out just worked good."

Abel, however, was even better, surviving a walk and two hits in a scoreless first inning, stranding three runners in the second and eventually throwing four complete innings, allowing no runs on three hits and two walks while striking out seven.

"I felt really good out there. It was a good day for me," Abel said. "I was pretty consistent throwing strikes and my slider was on which was nice. My fastball was a little more consistent in those last few innings than it was in the first and I just felt good."

"He was a young guy, but sometimes, freshmen just come out and start their day off great," Andrew said.

After two scoreless innings, Jesuit broke through for its first run in the bottom of the second. Will Spitznagel got things started with a single up the middle that ricocheted off the mound, then scored to give his team a 1-0 lead when Arndorfer followed with a double to deep center field.

After a scoreless fourth, Jesuit tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Arndorfer led off there with a walk, stole second and scored on an infield error. Then, after Jesuit's Ian Cooney reached base on another error, Kyle Knell came home on a sacrifice fly to extend his team's lead to 3-0.

Lakeridge's best chances to score came in the first, second and sixth stanzas. In the first, after Beau Bryant got picked off by Abel, Andrew and Webster came through with two-out singles before Abel struck out Hayden Moore to end the inning.

In the second, Colin Hardy reached base on an error with two outs, Harrison Brown laid down a bunt single and Beau Bryant walked before Abel struck out Cal Seneker.

And in the sixth, Webster was hit by a pitch and took second on a Brendan Sloan sacrifice before being stranded there.

With their first win in the bank, the Crusaders — the 2016 Class 6A state champs — believe there are more big things ahead.

"It's all about getting on a roll at the end of the year," Arndorfer said. "Last year, we kind of pulled it together at the end."

"There's always that big goal, but we take one game at a time and we'll see how it plays out," Kilpatrick added.

Likewise, the Pacers left their season opener convinced of their abilities.

"I think we're going to have a great year," Webster said. "I think we're going to have the best team we've had in the past five years that I've seen. We've got a deep staff. We've got, like, seven pitchers that can throw on the varsity level easily, and I think we have a great team behind the pitchers."

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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