Clackamas takes an 8-1 record and a two-game lead into the final two weeks of the league season

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Austin Kelly (left) and his teammates have given Clackamas coach John Arntson (right) and his coaching staff a lot to smile about this season.Ranked first in the 6A coaches poll, and second in the state in the OSAA power rankings, the Clackamas Cavaliers continued to get it done in Class 6A high school baseball last week, running their season record to 17-2 and their Three Rivers League record to 8-1 with a three-game sweep of Canby.

Heading into their final league series with West Linn (5-15, 2-7) and Lakeridge (13-6, 6-3), the Cavaliers were two games up on second-place Lakeridge and Lake Oswego (13-7, 6-3) in the race for the 2013 league title.

“It may sound like a cliche, but we’re just trying to take it one game at a time,” Clackamas coach John Arntson said on Sunday. “Right now our focus is on Monday’s game with West Linn.”

Arntson said that the main reason his Cavaliers have been successful this spring is depth.

“We’ve got a lot of depth on the mound, and at the plate,” he said. “It’s a different guy getting it done for us every time out. Coach [Tom] Bohlman has done a really good job with our pitchers. They’ve been efficient, throwing strikes and keeping batters off balance; we’ve been playing great defense behind them; and we’ve been getting timely hitting.”

Arntson added, “I’m not sure what our team ERA is now, but it’s pretty low.”

Winning games for the Cavaliers last week were: senior Austin Kelly (5-0) and juniors Jared Bell (5-1) and Taylor Stinson (3-0).

Stinson pitched six innings in a 7-0 shutout of Canby last Friday, striking out two and walking no one, while allowing just two hits.

“Taylor was pretty efficient,” Arntson said. “He only threw 51 pitches in six innings, and we played good defense and swung the bats.”

Kelly pitched the first five innings in an 8-0 shutout in an April 24 game played at Canby, striking out four, walking no one and allowing just two hits.

“Austin did a great job on the mound,” Arntson said. “It’s his first game with no walks. He’s getting a lot better with his control.”

Bell pitched the first six innings in a 10-2 win over the Cougars on April 22, striking out four, walking no one, hitting one batter and yielding just one hit.

“Jared was very good,” Arntson said. “He was throwing strikes and hitting his spots.”

The Cavaliers got eight hits and they made their hits count in the 7-0 win. Cade Wilkins doubled and Garrett Myers brought pinch runner Ryan Gilbert around with a timely base hit in the third for Clackamas’ first run.

And the Cavaliers took charge in the fourth, scoring three times on a base hit by Jake Iverson (2-for-3, 2 runs scored), a groundout, a wild pitch, two Canby errors, a two-run double by Cole Scruggs and a successful first-and-third steal. Scruggs and Taylor MacClanathan executed the double steal for the third run of the inning.

Myers (2-for-4) added a run-scoring double in the sixth and Aaron Ahlstrom rapped a two-run single in the sixth.

Canby nearly foiled the shutout in the top of the seventh, when the Cougars reached reliever Josh Devore for three hits and a hit batsman.

Following the hit batter, Iverson teamed up with second baseman Ahlstrom and first baseman Jarrod Switzer to turn a double play. Canby then loaded the bases with three straight base hits, before Ahlstrom ended the threat with a groundout.

Scruggs was huge in the 8-0 shutout. The junior infielder went 3-for-4 at the plate, driving in runs with doubles in the second and sixth innings and with a base hit in the fourth.

Nursing a 3-0 lead, the Cavaliers put the game away in the sixth frame, scoring five times on doubles by Iverson, Scruggs and Myers, two walks, and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Bell.

Kelly (2-for-3) also hit a double in the winning effort, as the Cavaliers pounded out 11 hits.

Zach Farnes (one hit, no walks, no strikeouts) faced only seven batters in two innings of relief.

It took the Cavaliers awhile to get going in their 10-2 win over the Cougars. They had 11 hits in the game, but it was still a 2-1 game heading into the bottom of the fifth.

Clackamas scored four fifth-inning runs with two down on two walks, a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt, a base hit by Myers, a two-run single by Ahlstrom, and a successful first-and-third steal by Iverson and Ahlstrom.

“The kid pitching for Canby was decent and it took us awhile to get our bats going,” Arntson said. “But I thought we played pretty good all-around.”

Myers (2-for-4, 2 runs), Kelly (2-for-2) and Switzer (2-run double) were the Cavaliers’ top hitters.

Devore (one strikeout, one walk, three hits) gave up one run in an inning of relief.

The Cavaliers play West Linn on the road this afternoon and they entertain the Lions on Friday.

Next week’s three-game series with Lakeridge has the Cavaliers playing away on Monday and Thursday, and hosting the Pacers on Wednesday (May 8).

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