Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
CENTRAL POINT — Crater coach Jay Campbell was faced with a dilemma concerning pitching ace Ty Fox prior to Wednesday's Class 6A second-round baseball contest against defending state champion Oregon City.
Campbell was forced to use Fox longer than desired during the Comets' 14-6 victory over West Linn on Monday. And the veteran Crater coach wasn't certain who would start against the Pioneers until deciding on Fox Wednesday morning.
The Comet junior right-hander dispelled any doubts by tossing a three-hit shutout to propel Crater into the state quarterfinals with a 4-0 victory at Anhorn Field.
Crater (19-10) will have to travel Friday to the winner of Sheldon-McMinnville, which is being played today.
Fox, who used 30 pitches in 21/3-innings of scoreless relief on Monday, struck out eight and walked two in going the distance against the Pioneers.
"(Fox) threw his best game of the year," said Campbell. "We were concerned because he threw more pitches than we would have liked on Monday. We weren't sure how far he would go.
"But he was in a groove and was able to keep them off balance," explained Campbell. "He rose to the occasion and that's what we expected from him. He wasn't going to let his teammates down."
Taylor Tibbets provided the big blow offensively with a second-inning leadoff home run. Tibbets belted a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for his second homer of the season.
"He got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on the baseball," said Campbell. "That was a big hit because it got our team excited and broke the ice a little bit."
The Comets didn't just settle for the 1-0 lead in the second. Paul Turner and Blake Fahndrich followed with singles and ended up on second and third after stolen bases. Taylor Pardee hit a sacrifice fly and Lane Ullom completed the rally with an RBI single.
Crater added an insurance run in the sixth when Turner singled, stole second and scored on Fahndrich's single.
Turner, Fahndrich and Tibbets had two hits each.
Oregon City (16-13), the No. 4 seed from the Three Rivers League, and Crater played errorless ball.
"It's been our focus all year to have good pitching, solid defense and timely hitting," said Campbell. "We put a complete game together. That's the formula you need this time of year."
Oregon City 000 000 0 — 0 3 0
Crater 030 001 x — 4 8 0
Johnson and Valenzuela-Reece; Fox and Aplin. W — Fox (7-4). L — Johnson. HR — C: Tibbets (2).
ROSEBURG 8, SPRAGUE 3 — At Roseburg, Layne Westwang went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and David Irvine homered for Roseburg, the No. 2 overall seed, in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
Irvine belted a leadoff home run in the first inning and Westwang hit a two-run triple in the third for the Indians (17-8), who will host West Salem (22-7) in the quarterfinals on Friday. The Titans beat Jesuit, 3-1, on Wednesday.
Cody Hagopian connected on a three-run homer in the sixth for Sprague (17-11).
Sprague 000 003 0 — 3 7 1
Roseburg 124 001 x — 8 11 0
Biggs, Bedortha (3) and Smith; Haskett and Irvine. W — Haskett. L — Biggs. 2B — S: Casebeer 2. 3B — R: Westwang. HR — S: Hagopian; R: Irvine.
HIDDEN VALLEY 1, SIUSLAW 0 — At Grants Pass, Hidden Valley's McKinnon Bennett hit a 3-2 pitch to left-center for an RBI double in the fourth inning to plate Tyler Gulbransen with the lone run in a first-round pitcher's duel at Reinhart Volunteer Park.
Gulbransen pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter to improve to 11-3, while Oregon State-bound Jake Thompson of Siuslaw allowed four hits with five walks, one hit batter and 10 strikeouts.
Siuslaw (17-7) played as the home team after the game was moved to a neutral site due to unplayable conditions at its home park.
Hidden Valley (18-7) advances to face Skyline Conference champion Henley (21-5) in Friday's quarterfinals.
Hidden Valley 000 100 0 — 1 4 1
Siuslaw 000 000 0 — 0 3 0
Gulbransen and Garrison; Thompson and Thrall. W — Gulbransen (11-3). L — Thompson. 2B — HV: Bennett.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 4, SALEM ACADEMY 3 — Cascade Christian hung on to win its first-round Class 3A state contest at U.S. Cellular Community Park after allowing two runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.
The Challengers (23-4) will host the winner of today's Clatskanie-Bandon matchup in a quarterfinal game on Friday.
With his team trailing 4-1, Salem Academy's Jonah Leutwyler hit a two-run single with two outs in the seventh. Prior to that, relief pitcher Cody Coggins recorded an out, walked two, struck out another and then allowed a third walk. Kyle Ferguson came in for Coggins and induced the game-ending flyout.
Leadoff hitter Ferguson finished 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the fifth that plated Josh Brite and put Cascade Christian up 2-0. Will Weaver bashed a two-run single to left field with the bases loaded and two outs an inning later against the Crusaders (15-12).
Winning pitcher Isaiah Luzny struck out six and allowed three walks and one unearned run. He was replaced by Coggins with one out in the sixth.
The Challengers went ahead 1-0 when Cooper Clark scored on an error by catcher Sam Cooper in the second.
Salem Academy 000 001 2 — 3 3 2
Cascade Christian 010 012 x — 4 6 0
Gerlicher, Westby (5) and Cooper, J. Leutwyler (5); Luzny, Coggins (6), Ferguson (7) and Jones. W — Luzny (7-2). L — Gerlicher. 2B — CC: Brite.