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Cascade Christian head baseball coach John Bruce wasn't thinking about conference titles on Tuesday. With four regular-season games remaining, the veteran leader's been mapping out plans for the future and ruminating on things like the number of innings his pitchers should throw.
News that he and his squad had clinched another crown was nice.
"It's interesting, I didn't think about that," Bruce said. "I've got other things on my mind. I'm just trying to make sure of certain things, more practical things. When the big picture stuff comes up it's a pleasant surprise."
The Challengers quickly captured the Southern Cascade Hybrid championship, cruising past Rogue River 16-0 in five innings at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
It didn't take long as the defending Class 3A state champions recorded seven runs in the first inning and eight more in the third to pick up their third consecutive league title.
Luke Dusenbury owned a two-hit shutout with five strikeouts and no walks before being replaced by Daniel Scottow in the fifth. Scottow gave up a single before fanning the next three batters and sealing the victory.
Kyle Ferguson was 3-for-3 with two runs scored, Josh Brite 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs and Dusenbury 2-for-4 with a three-run double in the third for Cascade Christian (18-4, 10-0 SCH), which tallied 14 hits and no errors.
Cody Coggins went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs, while Cooper Clark added a hit with two RBIs and two runs and Tristan Jones a hit with two RBIs and a run.
The young Chieftains (8-14, 2-7) had six errors, used three different pitchers and never advanced a batter past first base.
Clark bashed a two-run double down the third-base line to drive in Tim Martin and Jordan Ragan and give the Challengers a 6-0 advantage in the first inning.
Cascade Christian put the final nails in the coffin in the third. After loading the bases, the Challengers recorded three straight RBI singles by Coggins, Brite and Tyler West. A wild pitch brought home Coggins and gave the home team an 11-0 lead. Dusenbury's bases-clearing hit and Jones' run-scoring single made it 15-0.
"Our guys just like playing together a lot," Bruce said. "They enjoy baseball. They are good friends, even guys who are not in the same class. They enjoy getting after it and working hard. They like to compete."
Dusenbury needed but 41 pitches to get through four innings.
"He did a really good job with getting a lot of fast innings," Bruce said. "He is just very efficient."
The Challengers — who have only given up 11 total runs to conference foes this season — wrap up league play with a doubleheader at second-place Lakeview (15-8, 6-3) on Saturday. They will host Horizon Christian in a twin bill a week later.
Rogue River 000 00 — 0 3 6
Cascade Christian 708 1x — 16 14 0
Carpenter, Roohr (1), Ritchie (3) and Harris, Perston (3); Dusenbury, Scottow (5) and Jones. W — Dusenbury (2-1). L — Carpenter (3-6). 2B — CC: Clark, Dusenbury.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org