Clackamas wraps up the Mount Hood title
Friday, May 10
CLACKAMAS — It was the nicest day of the year so far, blue skies without a cloud in sight. Nonetheless, Clackamas baseball coach John Arnston found himself dripping wet at the end of the night.
Arnston was the victim of an ice water dump at the end of Friday's 8-0 home win over Centennial, which secured the Cavaliers' fourth consecutive Mount Hood Conference title.
The visitors, needing a win to have any shot at a 6A wildcard spot, had a chance to swipe the lead in the second inning when Christian Roberts drew a lead-off walk. Teammates Noah Sanders and Alex Bates each reached on bunts to load the bases with no outs.
But the opportunity was wasted when a suicide bunt saw Clackamas starter Nick Vaughn pounce off the mound and make the toss home to catcher Brody Upton, who applied the tag for the out.
"We practice that all the time. Once you see the bat go down, you get to the ball as fast as you can," Vaughn said. "It was crucial. We wanted to keep the momentum on our side and prevent them from getting anything going."
He struck out the next batter to bring up Centennial's Kyle Fitzgerald with a final chance to put the Eagles onto the scoreboard.
Centennial's No. 1 hitter drilled a line drive that appeared headed to left field only to have Clackamas third baseman Kaiden Miller reach out behind him with his bare hand to snag the catch for the third out.
"My eyes saw it at the last split-second, I took a step back, reached out and got it," Miller said.
The Eagles would not put another runner on base the rest of the way.
Vaughn struck out seven before giving way in the sixth inning to Grant Schoen, who struck out five of the six batters he faced.
Clackamas got the winning run in the bottom of the second when Jackson Jaha beat out an infield single, then zipped over to third base on a pair of passed balls. He found his way home on Tyson MacClanathan's sacrifice fly to right field. Teammate Justin Gonzales laid down a sacrifice bunt in the next at-bat to make it 2-0.
Schoen opened the third inning by launching a triple over the head of the center fielder, and he came home quickly when Upton sent a roller through the middle.
The Cavaliers broke the game open 6-0 in the fourth highlighted when Nick Vaughn stole home on Centennial's toss back to the pitcher.
"I watched the first five pitches and could tell that the catcher wasn't paying attention to me, so I kept getting farther and farther off base and finally took my chance," Vaughn said.
Schoen capped the inning with a two-run double to center field.
Schoen hit 4-for-4 at the top of the lineup, while Alex Claxton, Vaughn and MacClanathan also finished with multiple hits.
Clackamas (19-7) secured its fourth consecutive Mount Hood Conference title and won its last eight games on the league schedule. The Cavaliers are No. 4 in the OSAA rankings, sitting in position to stay on their home field through the 6A quarterfinals. The playoffs begin Monday, May 20.
"These last few games have given us a confidence that we can keep going," Vaughn said.
Centennial (15-11) sits three spots out of the last wildcard spot.
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This story is slated for our May 15, print edition.
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