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DeQuahn Dennis-Lee threw a four-hitter with eight strikeouts to help send the Pioneers into Monday's round of 32 against McMinnville

REVIEW/NEWS PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Oregon City's DeQuahn Dennis-Lee retired the first 11 batters he faced in order during Wednesday's 6A play-in game against Lakeridge at Clackamas High School.Oregon City's DeQuahn Dennis-Lee and the Pioneers avoided elimination Wednesday and get to play baseball at least one more day -- and maybe longer.

Dennis-Lee tossed a four-hitter with eight strikeouts and scored what proved to be the game-winning run in the third inning, leading the Pioneers to a 5-2 victory over Lakeridge in Wednesday's OSAA Class 6A baseball play-in game at Clackamas High School.

Tyler Hartenstein added an RBI-single and scored two runs to help send the Pioneers (14-13) into Monday's opening round of the 6A playoffs against Greater Valley Conference-champion McMinnville (21-6).

"The last couple of years have been kind of magical," Pioneers coach J.J. Winkle said. "We went to the quarterfinals two years ago, we played in the state championship last year, and … anything can happen.

"Since we're here, we're going to play. We'll work our tails off and we're going to do whatever we can to win."

Dennis-Lee, one of 10 seniors on Oregon City's roster, said the thought had crossed his mind earlier in the day that Wednesday's game might be his last, but dismissed it as nonsense.

"I knew that we were going to come out strong," he said. "I've been playing with these guys since seventh grade and I knew we didn't want it be done here. I knew this was not going to be our last game."

The Pioneers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Dennis-Lee led off with a single, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a throwing error by Lakeridge's second baseman on a ball hit by Kyle Pollack.

In the third, Hartenstein and Dennis-Lee were each hit by pitches from Lakeridge starter Josh Robins. Robins then came off the mound to field Jordan Weijland's sacrifice bunt and threw wide of first base, allowing both runners to score and make it a 3-0 game.

On the mound, Dennis-Lee retired the first 11 batters he faced on four ground-outs, two fly-outs, and five strikeouts, and settled into a nice rhythm working out of the windup.

He lost his perfect game with two outs in the fourth inning when Tommy Andrew, the Pacers' No. 3 batter, hit a single on a sharp grounder into right field. Cal Seneker followed with a line single to center, and then Everest Webster drove a 3-2 curveball into the gap in right-center for a two-run double, cutting Oregon City's lead to 3-2.

"Just a great hit," Dennis-Lee said of Webster's double. "I can't do anything about that one."

Dennis-Lee got out of the fourth without any further damage and then faced one batter over the minimum during the final three innings, retiring the final seven Lakeridge batters in order.

"DeQuahn's last five or six outings have been good," Winkle said. "He lost 1-0 to Clackamas, he lost 3-0 to Gresham on three unearned runs, he lost 1-0 to Reynolds, but he's been nothing but solid.

"He's pitching and playing at a different level this year. It's like he doesn't have a care in the world, nothing bothers him, he's just a man on a mission and you can't rattle him."

Oregon City added its lead in the fourth when Kam Shelley led off with a double -- arguably the hardest ball hit off Robins in the game -- and scored only Hartenstein's two-out, RBI-single.

Hartenstein then stole second, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on another wild pitch to give the Pioneers a 5-2 lead.

"We just kind of booted the ball around a little bit and gave Oregon City extra outs," Lakeridge coach Marco Tavera said. "That's something we talked about all year, and it's just of those things where it never quite clicked in for us. It's all about taking care of the baseball, and we didn't do that very well."

The Pacers, the No. 7 team out of the Three Rivers League, ended the season at 6-20.

"Coming into the season, we had high hopes," Tavera said. "We thought we were a better team than what we showed, but it was a disappointment. I think every time we step on the field, we expect to win, but it was one of those things where about the middle of the season it turned over to where there got to be some real long days.

"I give credit to our eight seniors who just kept coming every day and just kept grinding it out. It's not something that they wanted to do at times and it's hard when you're at that point, but they kept grinding every day for us and I thank them for that."

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