The Clackamas AAA ball club hammers Pendleton in the third-place final

CLACKAMAS - The Clackamas Outlaws played some of their best ball of the 2006 American Legion baseball season over the weekend, and they captured the third-place team trophy from their own 12-team summer tournament, the Diamond Classic.

The Outlaws, sponsored by D-Ambrosio Realtors, hammered Pendleton 14-7 in the third-place final, after getting blown out by Portland Angeles, Wash., in the semifinals.

'I thought we did a very good job at the plate in this tournament,' said Clackamas coach John Arntson. 'We still need a little work on defense, but one through nine, every kid's been doing the job at the plate.'

The Outlaws punished the ball for 18 hits in the rout of Pendleton, with every starter making contact for at least one hit. Clackamas batters struck out only two times in the game.

Senior first baseman Justin Sweet had a huge game with his bat, going four-for-four with a grand slam home run, a double and five RBI.

'It was my first grand slam ever, in my whole life,' said Sweet.

Sweet, who bats No. 5, described his round-tripper, 'When I got up there, I was thinking base hit. The first pitch was a fastball and I sat on it; the second pitch was a ball - high; the third pitch was right up the middle. I put everything I had into it and I just got lucky, I guess.'

The ball cleared the 370-foot sign in centerfield with plenty of room to spare.

The grand slam was part of a second-inning rally in which 14 batters stepped to the plate, scoring 10 runs on seven hits, five walks and one Buckaroo error.

Senior outfielder Alex Luchak had a big offensive game against the Bucks, making contact for four base hits in five at bats.

'We started out [the season] slow,' said Clackamas pitcher Kyle Taylor. 'But we're starting to hit the ball, and our pitching's coming together….

'I'm feeling pretty good [about our prospects next spring]. We lost some pretty good pitchers, but we've got some young guys like Jake Nolte and Ethan Bennett who've pitched real well this summer.'

Taylor pitched five long innings in 90-degree heat against Pendleton, scattering nine hits, while allowing just three earned runs.

Brad McMurphy made two huge defensive plays in centerfield in the trophy game with Pendleton. The senior outfielder robbed the Bucks of one run in the second frame, chasing down a base hit and hitting his relay for an out in a close play at the plate.

'That's the fifth guy Brad's thrown out at the plate this summer,' Arntson said.

And McMurphy robbed the Buckaroos of at least a couple of runs with a spectacular catch in the fourth frame, when Pendleton was attempting to stage a rally. The Bucks had the bases loaded with one down when a Pendleton batter hit a rocket to center. Nearly everyone at the ballpark thought the ball was going through for extra bases. But McMurphy dove flat out to make the catch, and doubled a stunned Buck baserunner off at second, for an inning-ending double play.

In other championship bracket games of the Diamond Classic, the Outlaws defeated Hood River 10-3, and got blown out by tournament champion Port Angeles, 16-0 in five innings.

Nolte pitched six innings against Hood River, striking out three and walking three, while allowing no earned runs.

Luchak (3-for-4) led Clackamas in an 11-hit attack, hammering out a triple, a double and a single, and scoring two times.

Pitcher control problems cost the Outlaws in the Port Angeles game. The visitors put 10 runs on the scoreboard in the first inning, when the Outlaws walked six batters.

Clackamas pitchers walked seven batters and hit two in the game.

The Outlaws went 1-1 in their three-team pool, but they gained their pool's top seed into bracket play because the other teams in their pool also went 1-1 and the Outlaws allowed opponents the fewest runs.

Clackamas dropped Gladstone 10-0 in its tournament opener, before losing to Great Falls, Montana, 6-3, in the second round of pool play.

Junior Corey Davis pitched a 2-hitter against Gladstone, striking out six and walking two in five innings.

Luchak fired up his bat for three base hits, and scored three runs. Sweet smacked a pair of doubles, driving in two runs.

Luchak, Taylor and Davis had two hits apiece in the loss to Great Falls.

Clackamas (17-9) had five American Legion games scheduled this week. The Outlaws host Canby in a doubleheader today at 3 p.m., and they entertain Oregon City Friday at 6 p.m.

In other Diamond Classic place games on Sunday, Portland Angeles dropped Great Falls 9-4 for first place; and Redmond topped Oregon City 15-6 in the consolation final.

Port Angeles advanced to the championship final with wins over Sunset (13-0) and Clackamas, after defeating Tualatin (7-2) and Redmond (14-4) in pool play.

Great Falls advanced to the final with wins over Tualatin (14-0), Oregon City (14-0) and Pendleton (4-2), after losing to Gladstone (6-5) and defeating Clackamas in pool play..

Black Sox win

four of six

The Oregon City Black Sox had a good tournament, winning four of six games.

They went 2-0 in pool play, defeating Graham, Wash., 5-4, and Hood River 16-5, before losing to Great Falls 14-0 in their championship-bracket opener.

They then bounced back with wins over Sunset (13-5) and Hood River (10-3), before yielding to Redmond in Sunday's consolation final.

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