Grant rains on Clackamas' season opener, edges defending champs 4-3
Three Grant pitchers kept Clackamas' bats surprisingly quiet Thursday, checking the Cavaliers on three hits to help lead the Generals to a 4-3 non-conference baseball win over the defending Class 6A state champions at Clackamas High School.
Tied at 2-2, Grant's Spencer Scott drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI-ground out in the fifth, and then Nick Markantonatos crushed a solo homer to straightaway center field leading off the sixth to give the Generals a 4-2 lead.
In the seventh, Clackamas pushed home a run, but left the potential tying run at third base when Scott, Grant's freshman closer, got Cole Hegar to hit a game-ending ground out to second.
"Anytime you can beat Clackamas, it's a feather in your cap," Generals coach Matt Kabza said. "For us to come out here in the second game of the season with a young group and get a win, I'm really proud of them.
"When we fell behind by two, I felt like there was a momentum shift and our guys stayed in the game and continued to battle."
Grant starter Dylan MacCallum pitched the first five innings and allowed two runs (both unearned) on one hit with six walks and six strikeouts.
Markantonatos came on in relief in the sixth and allowed two batters to reach base before Scott took over and got the final six outs for the Generals (2-0).
Clackamas had only three hits -- Grant Schoen's single in the third inning, Ryan McDonald's bunt singe in the sixth, and Greg Mehlhaff's ground-rule double in the seventh -- but the Cavaliers also drew eight walks and had one batter hit by a pitch, so there was no shortage of scoring opportunities.
Unfortunately for the Cavaliers (0-1), they went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and of the eight runner left on base, six were stranded in scoring position.
"I thought we were a little timid at the plate and I was kind of surprised by that, because I really like our lineup," Clackamas coach John Arntson said. "I thought we kind of looked at some fastballs and then got behind in the count and put ourselves in a more defensive situation instead of getting up there and being offensive and attacking.
"Our philosophy is to hunt fastballs, especially early in the count. It's early in the year and Grant's starter was pretty firm, so maybe the pitches were getting on our batters a little quicker than they anticipated."
Clackamas took a 2-0 lead in the third inning after Bubba Jaha led off with a walk and advanced to second on Schoen's single. Both runners moved up a base on a passed ball, and then both scored after two more pitches got past Grant catcher Eli Roberts with Jake Zehr at the plate.
The Generals answered in fourth with two runs on four hits off Mehlhaff, the Clackamas starter. All four hits were singles and both runs scored after there were two outs.
In the fifth, Grant's Alex Wagstaff led off with a single and then went from first to third when an errant pickoff attempt bounced past Clackamas first baseman Evan Johnston and rolled deep into foul territory.
Jack Fletcher then bounced softly to shortstop, allowing Wagstaff to race home with the go-ahead run.
Markantonatos was the first Grant batter to face Clackamas reliever Tucker Grote leading off the sixth. He looked at a ball and turned on the second pitch and drove it over the 370-foot sign in center for a solo homer.
The Cavaliers threatened in their half of the sixth when Hegar got hit by a pitch and Grote walked. Both runners advanced on Ryan Ahlstrom's sacrifice bunt, but got stranded in scoring position Kyle Kirsch struck out and McDonald grounded back to the pitcher.
In the seventh, Schoen drew a one-out walk and Mehlhaff followed with a ground-rule double, putting runners at second and third. Schoen scored and Mehlhaff went to third on Zehr's ground out to shortstop, and then game ended with Hegar's routine grounder to second.
"Sometimes this is the best thing for you early on," Arntson said. "We've got to get a couple guys healthy and then just get some reps and I think we'll be OK."