Clackamas is alone atop the TRL, after taking two games from LO

After two weeks of league play, Clackamas appears to have the inside track for the 2013 Three Rivers League baseball title.

After sweeping defending state champion Oregon City in the first week, the Cavaliers last week went 2-1 in their series with Class 6A state power Lake Oswego.

Last Friday’s 3-1 win over the Lakers at Lake Oswego was the Cavaliers’ 14th win in 16 ball games this season. They also won 2-1 at Lake Oswego on April 15, and they dropped a 2-1 barnburner to the Lakers on April 17.

Entering play this week, the Cavaliers (14-2, 5-1) were ranked third in the OSAA power rankings, behind top-ranked North Medford (13-4) and Roseburg (11-3). Lake Oswego (11-6, 4-2) was ranked sixth in the state in Class 6A.

The Cavaliers have a three-game series with Canby (5-11, 1-5) this week, playing the Cougars at home Monday and Friday, and at Canby this afternoon.

“The Three Rivers League is a tough league and 5-1 is a great start,” said Clackamas coach John Arntson. “Especially when the first two teams you played were Oregon City and Lake Oswego.

“But we can’t overlook anyone. Canby’s a good baseball program and we better show up ready to play [in our three games with Canby]. We’ve got to stay focussed and take it one game at a time. Keep grinding away and doing what we’ve been doing.”

Arntson said he’s been pleased with the way his charges have been playing in every phase of the game, except for the 2-1 loss to Lake Oswego, a game in which his Cavaliers struggled to get timely hitting.

“We left 11 guys on base [in the loss],” Arntson said. “And six of those 11 guys were in scoring position. We couldn’t get the timely hits.”

Last Friday’s 3-1 win at Lake Oswego was a defensive gem. Taylor Stinson pitched a complete game. He didn’t strike out anyone, but he scattered five hits and he didn’t give up any free passes. He made the Lakers put the ball in play, and the Cavaliers played great defense behind him.

Clackamas right fielder Michael McDonald made five catches for outs and Stinson helped his own cause, fielding four ground balls for four assisted putouts.

“Taylor did a really good job of throwing strikes and we played really good defense behind him,” Arntson said.

The Cavaliers went up 2-0 in the first inning. Jared Bell rapped a one-out single up the middle, Austin Kelly reached as a hit batsman and Jarrod Switzer walked to load up the bases. Bell scored on a balk, and Cade Wilkins plated Kelly with a sacrifice fly to center.

The Cavaliers added an insurance tally in the top of the fourth. Wilkins walked; pinch runner Ryan Gilbert advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Stinson and a wild pitch. Jake Iverson walked, and Gilbert scored on a safety squeeze by Aaron Ahlstrom.

The Lakers scored their only run in the bottom of the seventh, scoring with two down on a base hit and a double. Stinson then got a Laker batter to ground out to shortstop to end the game.

The Cavaliers squelched a Laker attempt at a rally through stellar defense in the bottom of the fifth. Back-to-back singles put Lake Oswego players at first and second with no one down. Stinson fielded a bunt and fired to Iverson covering third for the first out. Iverson then fielded a line drive and made the play at first base for an inning-ending double play.

Bell (2-for-4) led the Cavaliers in a six-hit offensive attack.

The 2-1 Cavalier win over the Lakers was a pitchers’ battle between Clackamas senior Austin Kelly and Lake Oswego junior ace Jordan Horak. Kelly struck out eight and walked three, while yielding four hits; Horak struck out 10, walked one and hit one batter, while giving up six hits.

“It was Austin Kelly’s best outing of the year,” Arntson said. “He was around the zone and he had control of all his pitches. Any time Austin has a game like that, we’re going to be extremely tough to beat.”

Clackamas broke a scoreless tie, scoring both of its runs in the top of the fourth. With one down, Kelly reached as a hit batsman. Switzer singled and Kelly and Switzer advanced on a passed ball. Wilkins then hammered the ball up the middle for a base hit, and both Kelly and Switzer came around.

Lake Oswego got a run back in the fifth, scoring with two down on a walk and singles by Mitchel McLaughlin and Jack Anderson. Kelly got Harrison Reece to ground out to Ahlstrom at shortstop to end the inning.

Kelly was money in the sixth and seventh. He made it three-up and three-down in the sixth, picking off the base runner after a lead-off walk and sending the next two batters down swinging. And he retired the side with three strikeouts in the seventh.

Both teams played error-free defense.

One swing of the bat proved the difference in LO’s 2-1 win. Travis Sanders scored what would prove the winning run with a fourth-inning solo home run.

The Lakers took advantage of Clackamas’ only error to score their other run in the top of the second. Following a Cavalier error, Horak reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored with two down on a base hit by Tyler Coleman.

Clackamas scored its only run in the last of the sixth. With one out, Iverson reached as a hit batter. Walks by Ahlstrom and Stinson loaded the bases. Bell then drew a full-count walk to force in the run. LO reliever Jack Kjemhus then retired the side when he got Kelly (2-for-3) to fly out to deep center.

Coleman pitched the first 6-1/3 innings for Lake Oswego, striking out five, walking two and yielding five hits.

Bell pitched a complete game for Clackamas, striking out five, walking one, giving up four hits and allowing just one earned run.

“I thought Jared Bell pitched really well,”Arntson said. “I felt bad for him because he was pitching against his former school and I know he wanted it. We just couldn’t get the timely hit.”

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