Ceciliani cranks two home runs; slugfest erupts

by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Madras centerfielder Devin Ceciliani (foreground, middle) is mobbed by teammates after he crushed a two-run home run in the first inning of Madras' 12-10 win against Estacada on Monday at Madras High School. Ceciliani hit two home runs in the game and drove in five runs to help the Buffs stay in playoff contention.In baseball, sometimes the simplest change can result in dramatic improvement.

Ask Madras senior centerfielder Devin Ceciliani.

Ceciliani hit two home runs and had five RBIs in a 12-10 win against Estacada on Monday in Madras to keep the Buffs' playoff hopes alive.

Madras coach Joe Dominiak said he worked with Ceciliani on Sunday, and the change Dominiak made to his swing was pretty simple.

"We just changed where his hands were before the swing," Dominiak said. "We put them a little higher than where he had them before, and he hit a pair of homers for us. Those were two big shots."

Ceciliani's first blast came in the first inning on a 1-0 pitch from Estacada starter Casey Jones. Ceciliani hit it over the fence just to the left side of straight-away centerfield, a shot that was close to 400 feet.

His second homer was just as, if not more, impressive. He deposited a Brandon Beck offering over the right field fence, well beyond the 332-foot sign down the line. It bounced off part of the Madras High School building, roughly 375 feet from home plate.

"Today's game was one we had to have. It was do or die," Dominiak said. "Offensively, when you have 15 hits, and two big home runs from Devin, it was something we needed."

by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Madras catcher Bear Spino applies a tag on Estacada's Casey Jones in the first inning of the White Buffalos' 12-10 win against Estacada on Monday at Madras High School.With Gladstone falling to North Marion 10-2 Monday, the Buffs are now tied with the Gladiators at 6-7 for third place in the Tri-Valley Conference, and the final automatic bid to the postseason.

If the teams end up tied at the end of the year, Madras holds a tiebreaker due to winning the season series, 2-1.

Through the opening three innings, both teams pounded the ball all over the yard.

Sparked by the first Ceciliani blast, Madras cranked out 11 of their hits by the third inning, answering whatever rally Estacada put together.

Madras pushed five runs across in a huge second inning, fueled by six singles, and a deep double by Jack Fine that one-hopped the centerfield wall and plated Cody Shepherd to give the Buffs a 7-5 lead.

After Estacada's Jordan Rohling tied the game at 9-9 in the fourth inning with a double, Madras had a threat wiped out by a slick double play by Estacada in the bottom half of the inning.

Freshman Austin Rauschenberg came on in relief and pitched a scoreless fifth for the Buffs, and then it was time for the senior Ceciliani to flex his muscle once more.

Robert Fine opened the inning with a single, then Andrew Fine laid down a sacrifice bunt to move his brother to second for Ceciliani.

The bunt really didn't matter, because Robert Fine would have scored from first after Ceciliani clobbered a Beck fastball to the opposite field — way out of the park — to give the Buffs an 11-9 lead, and what amounted to the winning runs.

"I tip my hat to Estacada for putting the pressure on us," Dominiak said. "They came out and hit the ball well, but I tip my hat to our kids, too. They responded when they had to."

Dominiak said Rauschenberg's relief work in the fifth and sixth was crucial to the win, and he wanted him to close the game, but the youngster ran into a little trouble in the seventh, so senior Robert Fine came in to shut the door.

"We had five pitchers slated to go today, and I didn't mind going to Robert because it was a bullpen day for him, anyway," Dominiak said. "I would have liked to stick with Austin at the end, but it looked like he just got a little nervous."

Madras used all five pitchers they had available, with Rauschenberg going a full two innings, while starter Andrew Fine and first reliever Devon Wolfe each pitched 1 2/3 innings.

At the plate, Ceciliani has the big day, going 3 for 3 with the two homers and five RBIs. Jack Fine hit a pair of doubles to go 3 for 4, and Robert Fine went 3 for 4 from the leadoff spot in the lineup.

Madras will play its final home regular season game on Wednesday against Molalla, then will finish the regular season on the road against North Marion, which has already clinched the Tri-Valley Conference championship.

Gladstone has La Salle Prep and Molalla left on its schedule.

Madras 4, Gladstone 3

The win against the Gladiators on Thursday could prove to be the one that gets them into the playoffs. They won the season series against Gladstone with a 4-3 win on the road, and can control their own destiny with wins in the final two games of the year.

Against the Gladiators, Andrew Fine went 2 for 4 and his brother Robert doubled and drove in a pair of runs.

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