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BASEBALL/SOFTBALL: Cascade makes sweeping statement

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Challengers topple South Umpqua in a battle of state’s top-two 3A squads

It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but Cascade Christian’s baseball team completed a statement sweep of South Umpqua that’s sure to shake up the Class 3A ranks on Friday.

South Umpqua and Cascade Christian entered this week’s Far West League series as the Nos. 1 and 2 teams, respectively, in the 3A coaches poll, but it will be the Challengers who expect to be moving on up.

Cascade Christian (13-1, 3-0 FWL) assumed control of the top spot in the state power rankings with a 1-0 win over the Lancers (10-4, 0-3) on Tuesday, then built on that momentum Friday with a 7-6 comeback win in the opening game of a doubleheader and 11-3 rout in Game 2.

“It was just great all-around team wins today,” said Challengers coach Kevin Shafer. “I was proud of our guys on just how they kept coming back and kept plugging away. These kids haven’t been the hunted of late and being 13-1 now and the No. 1-ranked team in the state, that’s exactly what we are, so we know we’re going to get everybody’s best. South Umpqua is a very, very good team. They’re someone you’re going to see make a deep run late in May and hopefully we are, too.”

Things didn’t look promising early Friday as South Umpqua built a 5-1 lead through three innings and Cascade Christian found itself without the services of one of its key performers in senior third baseman Austin Waits.

Already without senior Cody Reece, Cascade’s leadoff hitter and shortstop who was out sick, the Challengers had to dig deep to pull off a remarkable comeback.

“It was a really good job of our players being the next guy up and being resilient and fighting all the way through,” said Shafer. “And when we needed good quality at-bats, we put it all together.”

South Umpqua led 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh when the Challengers cashed in on four runs to win in walk-off fashion from an unlikely source.

Liam Benade reached on an error to start the seventh for Cascade and then Cole Shields drew a walk. Jackson Knips then contributed an RBI single before CJ Bonner laid down a bunt for a single that was misplayed and allowed the Challengers to pull within one run at 6-5.

After a strikeout, Triston Wallace — who had a leadoff home run in the sixth inning — was intentionally walked to load the bases. South Umpqua appeared destined to get out of the jam after another strikeout, but Owen Thompson was steady at the plate and drew a game-tying walk.

“That was a big at-bat,” said Shafer of Thompson’s final turn. “He can chase a bit at times but he was really patient and had a quality at-bat.”

With the game on the line, the Challengers called again for the services of Waits, who had been sidelined ever since a first-inning ankle injury sent him to the dugout. Able to re-enter as one of Cascade’s starters, Waits nearly had gotten the call in the sixth inning but Shafer wasn’t ready to make the switch at the time.

“I have to give a shout-out to coach (Jon) Gettman, who taped him up really well and Austin was kind of moving around all throughout the game trying to get back and ready,” said Shafer. “We really didn’t think we were going to get back to him but we had some really big at-bats and at that point we weren’t worried about him grounding into a double play or anything.”

Despite the injury and layoff, Waits stepped up and sent a game-winning liner to left-center that eluded the diving efforts of Kade Johnson.

If the walk-off hit weren’t enough, Waits went on to pitch a complete game in the nightcap, striking out six with six hits and five walks allowed. He also hit one of three Challengers home runs in Game 2 with a two-run shot in the third inning. Wallace added a solo home run in the fourth and Shields had a two-run home run in the sixth.

FIRST GAME

South Umpqua3020001—692

Cascade Christian1001014—772

J. Johnson, Jenks (7) and Horton; A. Moody, Stofflet (5) and Wallace. W — Stofflet. L — J. Johnson. 2B — SU: Ready. HR — CC: Wallace.

SECOND GAME

South Umpqua2010000—362

Cascade Christian005213x—1193

K. Johnson, Stevenson (4), Bowers (5) and Horton, Sestrom (5); Waits and Wallace. W — Waits. L — K. Johnson. 2B — SU: Lamm, Jenks; CC: Knips, Moody. HR — CC: Shields, Waits, Wallace.

GRANTS PASS 4, ROSEBURG 3: At Grants Pass, Cole Carnes walked to plate Troy Osborne for the go-ahead run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning as Grants Pass rallied to take down Southwest Conference-leading Roseburg.

Roseburg jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and had the bases loaded with no outs in the second inning until Grants Pass pitcher Tyler Ireland spelled starter Luke Baker and was able to work the Cavemen out of the jam unscathed.

Ireland went on to throw six shutout innings, allowing three hits with four walks and two strikeouts.

With the Indians ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Carnes came up with an RBI groundout and Baker’s single up the middle knotted the score at 3-all for the Cavemen (9-5, 4-1 SWC).

Taholo Vainuku-Johnson finished 2-for-2 against Roseburg (10-5, 4-1).

Roseburg3000000—361

Grants Pass0100021—480

Takahashi, Tatone (6) and Hubbard; Baker, Ireland (6) and Osborne. W — Ireland. L — Takahashi. 2B — R: Gillespie.

DOUGLAS 2-4, ST. MARY’S 1-8: At Winston, Eli Haynes went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored to power St. Mary’s to victory in Game 2 of the FWL doubleheader. In Game 1, the Crusaders fell short in a pitcher’s duel that lasted eight innings.

Haynes came up with a two-out, two-run triple during the Crusaders’ three-run second inning in the nightcap before Ean Lawrence capped the frame by doubling Haynes home to make the score 4-0.

The Crusaders’ Beau Aldrich was solid on the mound, going all seven innings with six strikeouts and one earned run allowed on five hits and one walk.

Lawrence finished 2-for-5 while Alan Gomez went 2-for-2 with two RBIs for the Crusaders (9-3, 2-1 FWL).

In the opener, St. Mary’s Travis Johnson pitched six innings, fanned five and allowed one run on five hits and one walk but did not factor into the decision.

The contest was tied 1-all at the end of regulation to force an extra frame, where the Trojans (7-7, 1-2) strung together three singles to win it in the bottom of the eighth.

FIRST GAME

St. Mary’s10000000—132

Douglas00010001—291

Johnson, Haynes (7) and Lawrence; Martin and Lounsbury. W — Martin. L — Haynes (0-2).

SECOND GAME

St. Mary’s1321100—8105

Douglas0003001—451

Aldrich and Lawrence; Richardson, Mickle and Lounsbury. W — Aldrich (5-1). L — Richardson. 2B — SM: Haynes, Lawrence; D: Martin. 3B — SM: Haynes; D: Lounsbury.

Softball

SOUTH UMPQUA 16-16, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 0-0: At Myrtle Creek, Cascade Christian was unable to keep up with undefeated South Umpqua, which came away with two Far West League wins by virtue of the three-inning, 15-run mercy rule.

Chloe Ehrlich accounted for the lone hit on the afternoon for the Challengers (0-15, 0-3 FWL) in Game 1.

With the sweep, South Umpqua improved to 13-0 overall and 3-0 in FWL play.

FIRST GAME

Cascade Christian000—016

South Umpqua(12)22—16120

Sweem and Williams; Kelley and Love. W — Kelly. L — Sweem. 2B — SU: Twyman, Kelley, Norton, Pratt. 3B — SU: Estupinian.

SECOND GAME

Cascade Christian0000—006

South Umpqua9502—16x0

Bonner and Sweem; Richardson and Vey. W — Richardson. L — Bonner. 2B — SU: Twyman 2. 3B — SU: Norton. HR — SU: Richardson.

Photo by Denise Baratta. Cascade Christian's Austin Waits (26) and CJ Bonner (5) chase down South Umpqua bas runner Jordan Stevenson.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Justin Jenks (7) of South Umpqua watches as Triston Wallace (27) runs the bases after hitting a home run for Cascade Christian in the sixth inning.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Cascade Christian baseball team members celebrate after pulling out a seventh-inning comeback Friday during Game 1 against South Umpqua in Medford.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Cole Stofflet pitches Friday for Cascade Christian against South Umpqua during Game 1 in Medford.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Cascade Christian's Ashton Moody, far right, reacts after being ruled out after a close slide into home plate Friday in Game 1 against South Umpqua.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Cascade Christian's Owen Thompson rounds second base and heads to third before scoring the second run in the fourth inning against South Umpqua.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Triston Wallace, left, celebrates with Cascade Christian teammate Owen Thompson after hitting the ball out of the park for a home run in the sixth inning Friday against South Umpqua.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Triston Wallace (27) meets with Cascade Christian baseball head coach Kevin Shafer, right, following Friday's Game 1 against South Umpqua.