Back in 1960, Canby High baseball played for its first ever state title against Seaside in the A-2 championship game at Multnomah Stadium in Portland.
Fast forward 62 years, and the Cougars will be making their second title game appearance after taking down Clackamas in a 14-9 slugfest on Tuesday, May 31.
The state championship game will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.
As the No. 14 seed, Canby has gone on the road to knock off No. 3 South Medford, No. 6 Mountainside and now No. 7 Clackamas to make program history and return to the title game.
"We talk about it, it takes everybody," Canby coach JJ Stolsig said of being road warriors. "We carry 20 guys and it takes all 20 people … These guys can compete and it's fun to be part of it and see them compete."
Canby started the party by hanging up seven runs in the second inning that started with a triple from Kellen Oakes.
Alex Evans singled up the middle to score Oakes, and one more run on a throwing error. Senior Theo Netter was next with a two-RBI double and Bryce Oliver switched places with him in the next at-bat.
Designated hitter Clayton Langdale was next and proved why he's the DH, launching a two-run home run to dead center to make it 7-0 Canby in a blink.
"I'd be lying if I said we've been scoring a lot of runs," Stolsig said. "Today we had really good at bats after the first inning and hit the ball hard. We found ways to get some runs, ran the bases well, so today was a big day for us."
With the season on the line and at home in front of a crowd that stretched down both base lines, Clackamas wasn't going down easy.
A couple duds in the bottom of the second and third set the stage for the second trip through the lineup for the Cavaliers, and a second look was all they needed.
Nick Holm started the fun with a one-out double that was followed by three consecutive singles from Maurice Meyers, Ashton MacClanathan and Jacen Rademacher to score two runs.
Garrett Strube broke it open with a two-RBI double to right, followed by a sacrifice fly from Jake Brady.
Trevor Wilson made it six runs on a double to left center and Jackson Jaha tied the game with a RBI single to right.
"We knew going into the game that they weren't going to give up," Canby senior Netter said. "As soon as we scored those seven we told each other, 'They're gonna fight back, they're gonna punch us.'
"It's just about how hard we punch them back, and we punched them pretty good."
The Cougars got to work in the top of the fifth, with plenty of help from the Cavaliers' defense.
Canby loaded the bases with one out and scored on a walk, then Netter came through once more with a single to left to bring home another two runs.
A wild pitch would give Canby the 11-7 lead and then a line drive to left was lost in the sun by Clackamas to allow two more runs to cross home.
Rademacher and the Cavaliers had already come back once, and he was ready to help do it again with a two-run home run deep to left in the bottom of the fifth to make it 13-9.
However, the Cavs couldn't muster another run in the last two innings and only had one baserunner on a walk in the final two frames. Oakes pitched those innings, giving up no hits and he had a RBI single in the seventh to make it 14-9.
"Those are some good pitchers, and we came out and tied the ball game up," Clackamas coach JJ Winkle said. "Just kind of ran out of gas. Credit to them, those guys hung in there, too. They're tough, they swing it and that senior class is pretty good. They know how to win."
Like Winkle said, Stolsig saw his crew fight back when the momentum had completely shifted and simply found a way to win.
"We got some relentless guys, there's no quit in this group," Stolsig said. "They didn't flinch, guys just said, 'Hey, let's score some more.' And the guys put up a six-spot right after that. That's obviously a big way to respond to that seven because it could have gone the other way."
For the senior Netter, making it to the title game was a full circle moment as he said his grandpa, Ralph Netter, was on the team back in 1960. At least, that's what his grandpa claims.
For the whole community of Canby though, the win is a big one for the underdog 14 seed.
"The community is great, the community travels well," Stolsig said. "We probably had close to as big of a crowd as the home team at South Medford (in round two) … we traveled a lot of people. It's awesome for our kids and our kids are fortunate to be a part of it."
Back to that 1960 state title game: the Cougars lost it 4-0 to Seaside at Multnomah Stadium in Portland.
Come June 4 in Keizer, Canby hopes to have this storybook run end a little differently when it takes on Three Rivers League rival No. 4 West Linn for the 6A state title.
"I wanna see a win," Netter said of the upcoming title game. "We've already beat West Linn once this year, and we should have beat them twice … I think we have a very good chance on Saturday."
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