Clackamas rallies late to nip Lakeridge 2-1
This one had everything you could want in a late-season baseball classic.
Two of the state's best teams, two of the state's best pitchers and an edge-of-your-seat thriller that wasn't decided until Clackamas scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to beat Lakeridge 2-1 at Clackamas High School on Monday, May 17.
Both pitchers — Clackamas' Jackson Jaha and Lakeridge's George Eisenhardt — went the distance. They combined to strike out 14, and yielded just nine hits and one walk (intentional) between them.
The contest also marked the last home game for Clackamas head coach John Arntson, who is retiring after 24 seasons to become the school's athletic director.
"That's one of the better teams in Oregon," Arntson said of Lakeridge, which has five Division I recruits. "It was fun to go blow-for-blow and pull it out at the end. I'm going to remember that for a long time."
Along with a 3-0 win over Tualatin on Wednesday, May 19 — the Cavaliers' fourth straight — Clackamas finished its season with an overall record of 16-2 after also winning the Mt. Hood Conference at 12-1. Lakeridge, meanwhile, shook off a two-game losing streak to beat Metro League champion Westview 3-0 at Westview High School on May 19 and finished its year with a 15-2 overall record and a 10-0 Three Rivers League championship.
"It was an incredible game," said Lakeridge coach Ray Pearson. "If it wasn't for a couple of mistakes in the infield, the game would have been different. I'm very proud of the kids."
Lakeridge got on the board first in the second inning against Jaha, a University of Oregon recruit. The junior righthander left a 2-1 fastball in the middle of the plate and Pacer senior Josh Schleichardt made him pay. The Utah-bound senior launched the pitch into the trees over the 355-foot mark in left-center for a 1-0 Lakeridge lead.
For most of the game, it appeared that Eisenhardt would make the 1-0 advantage hold up. The Xavier-bound righthander yielded just two singles and no walks through five innings, using a fastball that registered in the low 90s and an off-speed pitch that had Cavalier batters fooled most of the afternoon. When Clackamas batters did reach base, they didn't stay for long, as the Pacers produced two double plays to help them get out of jams.
Jaha, meanwhile, settled down after the home run and allowed just one more hit and no walks through six innings, while fanning seven during that stretch.
Clackamas' ninth hitter, junior Austin MacClanathan, started the Cavaliers' winning rally in the bottom of the sixth with a one-out line drive single to center. He advanced to second when Tatum Erickson reached on an error, then scored on a single to left by Trevor Wilson to tie the game at 1-1.
"They're grinders and they stayed the course," Arntson said. "We've had to deal with adversity here and there throughout the season and we talk about how to respond to it. 'Keep yourself in the game, keep things close and keep giving yourself a chance.' I thought we did that."
Clackamas wasn't through, however. Each runner picked up an extra base when the throw home sailed over the cutoff, putting runners at second and third with one out. Lakeridge intentionally walked Jaha — the only walk of the game yielded by either pitcher — but appeared poised to escape further damage when Eisenhardt struck out the next batter and got two strikes on the Cavs' fifth hitter.
But before Eisenhardt could end the threat, Arntson called for Erickson to bluff going home, the base umpire ruled that Eisenhardt balked and Erickson went home with what turned out to be the winning run.
"We had a big strikeout there with our four-hitter," Arntson said. "I thought, 'Let's take a chance.' It's something we practice every day. Once we got to two strikes, the odds were low. 'Let's take a chance and see if it works' and it did. We were fortunate."
Lakeridge's Mason Utech led off the seventh with a single to right, but the Pacers couldn't capitalize. Jaha's eighth strikeout, a fielder's choice and a ground ball to shortstop followed, sealing the victory.
Despite the loss, Pearson was proud of his team's effort.
"Our kids came (back) after a devastating loss on Saturday where they didn't play well," he said. "(That) result doesn't reflect the character of the players."
John Tawa writes for OSAAtoday.
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