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Cascade Christian's Andy Bellamy, right, steals second base against Willamina shortstop Sean Haselden.

photos by Drew Fleming

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Willamina shuts down Cascade in playoffs, 3-1

WHITE CITY -- Willamina High pitcher Brandon Carpenter was still doubting himself even though he had yet to yield a hit through the first four innings.

Even without his confidence, the senior right-hander sliced and diced his way through Cascade Christian's batting order Friday for a 3-1 Class 2A state baseball playoff win over the second-ranked Challengers at the V.A. Domiciliary.

For the first time all year, a curveball gave us problems, said Cascade Christian coach John Bruce, whose hitters went down swinging 10 times against Carpenter. We just weren't very disciplined today.

The Challengers (22-4) were being tied in knots at the plate until the fifth inning, when designated hitter Kyle Stutzman broke up the no-hitter with a solid single.

Justin McCord sacrificed Stutzman to second. Then Jesse Figueroa laced a line drive to right that bounced over the head of Willamina's Juan Ayala for a triple, driving in Stutzman to make it 3-1.

Leadoff hitter Don Jenkins followed with a walk and promptly stole second.

With runners on second and third and one out, Carpenter struck out Aaron Beamish for the second out, setting up a matchup against Cascade Christian slugger Tim Alvarez.

Before the matchup, Willamina coach Tom Shinn visited the mound. Meanwhile, Carpenter glanced over at Figueroa on third base and cast a giant grin.

It was just a look to let him know I wasn't bothered by the hit, said Carpenter. I was also letting them know they wouldn't be getting any more runs.

After the smile and the visit, Shinn decided to gamble and let Carpenter pitch to Alvarez.

It paid off as Alvarez hit a screaming line drive, but right into the glove of Bulldogs' center fielder Eric Fendall to end the inning.

I thought about walking him (Alvarez) because he's their stud, said Shinn, whose team improved to 21-6. My kid steps up in those situations, and he did it again.

Carpenter wasn't concerned.

I knew it was time to go to work, so I had to do it, he said. It was a sense of inner calmness after that inning. I wasn't as nervous after that.

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Tim Alverez of Cascade Christian dives — safely into second base. — —

The Challengers failed to muster another rally.

Give their pitcher credit, he really competed and showed how bad he wanted it, said Bruce. We had excellent chances, but we just couldn't do it.

Willamina took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Carpenter hit an RBI single off Cascade Christian starter Bryan Edwards.

An inning later, the Bulldogs increased the margin to 3-0 on a two-run double from Chris Abrames.

Edwards promptly walked Sean Haselden to put runners on first and second with nobody out, so Bruce called on Alvarez to try and douse the flames.

It worked as Alvarez promptly picked off Haselden, got Dan Bazzy to pop up to short and struck out Ayala to end the inning.

Alvarez did his job of holding down the fort the rest of the way, as the lefty struck out seven in his four innings of work, and prompting questions on why he went with a sophomore instead of his senior ace.

They (Willamina) wouldn't have gotten anything off him all day, said Bruce. Our idea was we would beat that team nine out of 10 times. Things just didn't work out.

The victory was especially pleasing to Shinn, who felt like his team deserved more credit coming into Friday's contest.

We've thought all year we should have been ranked in the Top 10, said Shinn, a Roseburg graduate. But we knew what kind of club we had and knew we could win.

Stutzman led the Challengers at the plate, collecting two of his teams' three hits.

Billy DeLoe led the Bulldogs with two hits.

Willamina .................001 200 0 -- — 4 0 Cascade Christian .....000 010 0 -- — 3 0

Carpenter and J. Cornwell; Edwards, Alvarez (4) and Roberts. W -- Carpenter. L -- Edwards. 2b -- W: Abrames. 3b -- CC: Figueroa.

By DAVE DAUGHERTY