The Cavaliers throw strikes, play defense en route to the county crown

by: SUBMITTED - The Clackamas Cavaliers proved themselves the top 13- and 14-year Junior Baseball team in Clackamas County in 2014. Members of the standout team included: (front row, left to right) Isaiah Scardino, Zandon Elliott, Ryan Ahlstrom and Ryan McDonald; (second row) Jaden Shaw, Jacob Allen, Jake Zehr, Cole Hager, Kyle Kirsch, Mitchell Modjeski, Evan Johnston and Mark Cadieux; and (back) coach Jason Carroll, coach Keith Miller and head coach John Kirsch.There were very few 13- and 14-year-old baseball teams around in 2014 that were as fundamentally sound as the Clackamas Senior Federal League ball club.

The team was only average in hitting, but they played super tough defense, their pitchers gave opponents very few free passes, and the players were tremendous base runners, making the most of their opportunities when they got them.

Their solid fundamental play earned them a 14-3-1 league record (35-10-2 overall) and first place in their county league, and first place in the 2014 Clackamas County Senior Federal Championship Baseball Tournament.

“We had quality defense and pitching,” said Clackamas coach John Kirsch. “We took advantage of our opportunities when we got runners on base, and we ran the bases well. We did a lot of things to manufacture runs....

“We felt we had a pretty good chance [of winning the county championship tournament] because we were competitive in every league game, even the games that we lost.”

The Cavaliers’ competitiveness showed up big time at the county tournament. They lost to Lake Oswego 10-4 in a tournament game that was postponed five hours because of thunder and lightning. But they came back and thumped the Lakers the next night, winning 9-2 in the county championship final.

Clackamas pitchers Mark Cadieux and Jacob Allen allowed only two walks and three hits in the title game with the Lakers. They had only two strikeouts, but their teammates played error-free ball behind them.

“We didn’t give up a lot of free passes,” Kirsch said.

Lake Oswego pitchers issued 10 free passes through walks or hit batters in the championship game.

The Cavaliers took charge of the championship game in the bottom of the first inning, when they parlayed base hits by Mitchell Modjeski, Allen and Kyle Kirsch, a hit batter, and a walk into four runs.

Leading 4-1, they put the game away with four more runs in the fourth. Jacob Zehr’s RBI single was the only hit in that inning. Zandon Elliott squeezed in a run with a well executed bunt.

In other county tournament games, the Cavaliers dropped the top 13- and 14-year-old team from North Marion 5-3; and they beat the top 13- and 14-year-old team from Lake Oswego 8-5. They had only one error in each of those games.

Cadieux pitched a full seven innings against the Huskies, striking out one, walking two and scattering eight hits. The Cavaliers had only six hits in that game, but they made their hits count.

They scored four runs in the first inning. Kirsch had a two-run single, Evan Johnson had a run-scoring single, and Ryan McDonald scored on a passed ball.

The Cavaliers also got outhit in their 8-5 win over Lake Oswego. Jaden Shaw had a big game, going 2-for-2 and scoring two runs. Shaw pitched the first six innings, striking out four and scattering seven hits. The Cavaliers were up 5-0 after two innings, and they led the rest of the way.

Shaw and Cadieux were the Cavaliers’ top two pitchers through the county tournament. Cadieux had 50 strikeouts and 18 walks allowed in 54 innings. Shaw, a left-hander, had 50 strikeouts and 40 walks allowed in 60 innings. Shaw had a 1.4 ERA; Cadieux had a 1.6 ERA.

Allen, Kirsch and Cole Hager also pitched for the Cavaliers.

Ryan Ahlstrom (.429), Kirsch (.432) and Modjeski (.388) were the top hitters. Isaiah Scardino and Modjeski were the RBI leaders, each with 33; Modjeski (42), Kirsch (39) and Scardino (38) were team leaders in runs scored.

McDonald was greased lightning on the bases, with 47 stolen bases in 37 games.

Kirsch and Jake Zehr were solid behind the dish, keeping the ball in front of them and giving up very few passed balls or stolen basis.

Vying for the Cavaliers in the county championship tournament were: Isaiah Scardino (second base/outfield), Zandon Elliott (infield), Ryan Ahlstrom (centerfield), Ryan McDonald (shortstop), Jaden Shaw (pitcher/first base), Jacob Allen (pitcher/third base), Jake Zehr (outfield/catcher), Cole Hager (pitcher/first base/outfield), Kyle Kirsch (catcher/pitcher), Mitchell Modjeski (outfield/pitcher), Evan Johnston (infield/pitcher) and Mark Cadieux (pitcher/infield).

Jason Carroll and Keith Miller assisted John Kirsch in coaching the team.

Clackamas went 2-2 at the 2014 State Senior Federal Tournament and finished in fourth place. After dropping their opener to Sherwood 10-6 in eight innings, the Cavaliers bounced back with losers bracket wins over Lebanon (10-0) and Lake Oswego (24-11). They were eliminated from the tournament with a 6-3 loss to 2014 state runner-up McMinnville.

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