Baseball: Clackamas survives first-round scare, downs Summit 5-4
The score was tied when Clackamas' Grant Schoen was scheduled to lead off the sixth inning of Monday's home playoff game against Summit.
As Schoen grabbed his helmet and a bat, and then turned for a quick conversation with Cavaliers head coach John Arntson.
"Arnie came up to me and said, 'When you get on base, so you want me to bunt you over or do you want to steal?'" Schoen said. "I said, 'I'll steal and you'll see me at first.'
"And then I found a way to first base."
Schoen reached on a bunt single, stole second with one out, and scored what proved to be the game-winning run on Alex Claxton's hard grounder to the left side, lifting the Cavaliers to a 5-4 home win over the Storm in Monday's opening round of the OSAA Class 6A playoffs at Clackamas High School.
Clackamas reliever Kaiden Miller, who surrendered a game-tying, two-run homer in the top of the sixth, retired Summit in order in the seventh as the No. 3-ranked Cavaliers (21-7) into Wednesday's second round against Lake Oswego (15-13).
"That was not our best game, for sure," Schoen said. "We actually had pretty good at-bats and everything, but we had a couple errors and some other stuff that didn't go our way.
"A win is a win in the playoffs. It doesn't really matter how you do it. But it was good for us to face some adversity in the beginning to understand how to overcome it and, hopefully, we'll continue to battle through and play for another state championship."
Clackamas led 4-2 in the sixth when Miller over on the mound for Cavaliers starter Nick Holm, the right-handed freshman who had held Summit to two runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts through the first five innings.
Miller gave up a one-out single to Summit's Michael Schutz and then threw a 3-2 pitch that Gus Martin drove off the top of the fence in right-center field – yes, the ball literally bounced off the top of the fence near the 354-foot sign – for a two-run homer that tied the game at 4-4.
"Kaiden threw an inside fastball and that kid just got it," Arntson said. "The kid hadn't swung the whole game. We walked him twice, once on five pitches, then on four pitches, so we hadn't even seen him swing his bat until the sixth inning.
"We saw it there. He can swing it."
Miller got out of the inning without any further damage and then it was Schoen's turn to do something to put the momentum back on Clackamas' side.
So, who's idea was it to bunt in that situation? Player or coach?
"That was all me," Schoen said. "I've become a pretty good bunter over my high school career, especially drag bunting. The third baseman was a little slow, so I was just going to lay one down and see what I could do."
The Pepperdine-bound outfielder executed the play perfectly, placing the ball along the third-base line where nobody for the Storm could make a play.
"I was kind of thinking to drag, but I didn't call it," Arntson said. "That was all Grant. I just told him, 'We need a base runner, so do what you gotta do.'
"We teach our guys to take a peak and if the third baseman is playing back, put it down. And he did and, jeez, it wouldn't have mattered if the third baseman was playing up on that one."
Next, Brody Upton drove the first pitch he saw to deep left field where Summit's Andrew Ryan made a nice running catch, high over his head and a few feet short of the fence for the first out.
Then it was Claxton's turn and looked at two pitches out of the strike zone, with Scheon stealing second on the second pitch.
Claxton then hit a sharp grounder that was too hot for Summit shortstop Julian Mora to handle cleanly. Schoen was running on contact and didn't see the ball bounce off Mora's glove into shallow left field, but he did see Arntson in the third-base coach's box waving him home.
"Grant's a fast kid, so I thought, 'We're going to take a chance here because we need a run,'" Arntson said. "Momentum was in Summit's favor and we needed to go get one and try to get out of here."
In the seventh, Miller struck out Mora to open the inning, he retired Dylan Ruhl on a grounder to shortstop, and then he got Cannon Reeder to hit a game-ending pop out to second. All told, Miller threw 13 pitches in the inning, including 12 for strikes.
"When Kaiden stays ahead in the count, he's really good," Arntson said. "That's the key for him, though. He's got to get ahead and stay ahead."
Schoen finished 3 for 4 with a double and two runs scored, while Nate Vaughn, Holm, and Upton added one hit each.
In the first inning, Clackamas sent eight batters to the plate against Summit starter Hank Tobias and scored four runs on two hits, one walk, two hit batsmen, and a sacrifice fly to take a 4-0 lead.
The Storm of Bend answered with two in the second when Martin drew a leadoff walk, Evan Scalley followed with a double, Tobias hit a sacrifice fly that scored Martin, and Ryan added an RBI-triple that scored Scalley to make it 4-2.