Cavaliers rally late in a 5-4 barnburner

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Clackamas players celebrate their come-from-behind, extra-inning semifinal victory over Southridge.After breezing to a 12-0 victory over fifth-ranked Thurston in the quarterfinals, the fourth-ranked Clackamas Cavaliers won a 5-4 extra-inning barnburner from 19th-ranked Southridge in the May 28 semifinals and earned the right to play in Saturday’s Class 6A state title game.

The semifinal was an uphill battle for the Cavaliers, who had to score two runs in the top of the seventh to stay alive and two runs in the top of the ninth to win it.

Hero honors went to junior outfielder Josh Devore, who plated what would prove the winning run with a bloop single to right with two down in the ninth.

The Cavaliers struggled to hit the ball off of Southridge ace Reza Aleaziz, who pitched the first seven innings, striking out five and walking one, while allowing just three hits. Aleaziz, who is headed for the University of Oregon, faced only 19 batters in the first six innings, pitching shutout ball, except for a solo home run to Jake Iverson in the top of the fifth.

But Aleaziz’ teammates blinked, committing two costly errors in the seventh, and the Cavaliers took full advantage.

With Clackamas trailing 3-1, junior infielder Cole Scruggs got things started in the seventh, when he reached on an error to lead off the inning. Senior infielder Austin Kelly followed with a double to left-center.

Pinch runner Aaron Ahlstrom dashed home on a grounder to second by junior infielder Taylor Stinson; and Kelly scored the tying run on a sharply hit ball by senior infielder Jake Iverson that deflected off the glove of Southridge’s third baseman.

The Cavaliers staged a two-out rally to put the winning runs across in the top of the ninth, stringing three hits together off of Southridge reliever Parker Stidham.

With one down, Stinson rallied the troops with a double, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored with two down on a single up the middle by senior infielder Jarrod Switzer.

Switzer moved to second on a wild pitch; Devore followed with his run-scoring single, and the Cavaliers were in the driver’s seat, leading 5-3.

With one down in the bottom of the ninth, Jacob Zanon hit a solo home run to left-center, trimming Clackamas’ lead to 5-4. But Clackamas pitcher Jared Bell got the next two batters to groundout in the infield, and the Cavaliers celebrated the hard fought victory.

Bell was a trooper, pitching a complete game — striking out four, walking two and scattering nine hits in nine innings.

Southridge finished the season with an overall record of 18-13, after going 10-5 and tying Jesuit for second place in the Metro League.

The semifinal win put the Three Rivers League champion Cavaliers at 27-3 on the 2013 season.

The Cavaliers were all business on May 24, as they rallied around senior right-hander Austin Kelly and their bats to upend Sheldon 12-0.

Kelly pitched a one-hitter, coming within two outs of a no-hitter. Thurston’s Rocco Ferrari broke up the no-hitter, beating out a ground ball for an infield single with one down in the top of the seventh.

Bell headed Clackamas’ offense, with three hits.

Kelly helped his own cause with a two-run triple in a three-run third inning.

The Cavaliers put the game away in the fourth frame, scoring six times on four base hits, three walks and two Colt errors. Cade Wilkins and Garrett Myers both had RBI singles in the big inning.

It was Thurston’s third appearance in the quarterfinals in the past four seasons. The Colts finished up with a 22-8 record, after going 6-2 and finishing runner-up to Sheldon in the Southwest Conference.

Thurston reached this year’s quarterfinals with wins over Newberg (7-4) and Lakeridge (15-6). Clackamas’ 12 runs was the most runs the Colts had allowed any opponent this season. They entered the quarterfinal with Clackamas having allowed 29 opponents an average of 3.3 runs a game.

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