The day was almost perfect, with blue skies, light clouds and mid-70s temperatures.
The setting was almost perfect, too — a late-April Mt. Hood Conference battle between the powerful Clackamas baseball team and the surprising Sandy Pioneers.
With all that as pretext, Cavalier junior pitcher Jackson Jaha wanted to do his part to add to the day's theme — and he did. Jaha was perfect for the game's first three innings and ended up getting the win after throwing 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits and no walks while striking out 14.
"I felt really good. I had all my pitches working for me," Jaha said. "I was throwing a lot of strikes … (and) I felt like my velocity was pretty much consistent all the way."
"It helps to have Jaha out there," said Clackamas senior center fielder J.D. Dorn, who went 2 for 4 at the plate with a triple and one run scored. "It gives us a little sigh of relief when he's throwing."
With the win — the Cavaliers' seventh straight — Clackamas improved to 6-1 in MHC play and 7-1 overall. Sandy, meanwhile, fell to 3-4 in conference play and 4-4 overall.
While the Pioneers had their hands full with Jaha, they competed better as the game progressed, getting two of their three hits in their last two at bats and scoring their lone run in the seventh inning.
"We knew coming in that they had (Jaha) throwing on the mound so we all had that attitude going into the box," said Sandy freshman right fielder Matthew Kosderka. "We wanted to upset them, drive balls to the gaps, absolutely compete."
"We just had to stick in there," said junior shortstop Danner Hamburg. "We knew he was throwing hard and stuff, but it's nothing we can't handle. It's nothing that we can't hit."
Offensively, Clackamas was on fire at the start of the game, banging out five hits in the first inning and scoring four times to take control early. Tatum Erickson, Dorn and Jaha started the game with back-to-back-to-back singles, with Jaha's shot to center bringing home the first two runs of the game.
Then, after Nick Holm was hit by Sandy pitcher Casey Allsop, Clackamas' Kadin Miller singled to right to give his team a 3-0 lead. Holm then scored his team's fourth run on a wild pitch before Allsop settled in to get three straight outs, the last on a double play from Hamburg to Bodhi Roach to Riley Harmier.
Jaha was untouchable early, striking out two batters in the first, three in the second and two more in the third — and facing just nine hitters in those first three frames. Allsop, meanwhile, settled down after his tough start and held the Cavaliers scoreless for the next four innings, stranding Dorn after his two-out triple in the second, then allowing just singles (to Ashton MacClanathan, Trevor Wilson and Miller) over the next three at bats.
In the bottom of the sixth, Wilson hit a one-out single to center, then scored when Erickson doubled to center to push the Clackamas lead to 5-0.
In the top of the seventh, though, the Pioneers finally broke through. Allsop got things started when he hit a one-out double to left field and pinch runner Jack Logan sped home to score after that on a two-out Clackamas error. But Holm came on in relief of Jaha to get the final out and end the game.
"Yeah, we came out strong, but then we kind of tapered off near the end," Dorn said. "I think keeping our foot on the gas all the way through is big for us."
"Some of the hits toward the end, I wish we could have started a little earlier, but otherwise our defense played good and Casey threw good," Hamburg said. "We've just got to keep hitting, and we've got to keep (playing error-free) like we have been."
For Clackamas, Wilson went 2 for 3 at the plate and scored once. For Sandy, Allsop threw six innings, allowing five runs (one earned) on nine hits and no walks with no strikeouts.
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