Clackamas' Arntson named 6A baseball Coach of the Year
Clackamas coach John Arntson was named the OSAA Class 6A baseball Coach of the Year after leading the No. 2-ranked Cavaliers to a 29-3 record and their third state championship in 10 seasons.
Oregon City senior shortstop DeQuahn Dennis-Lee and Clackamas junior utility player Greg Mehlhaff landed spots on the all-state first team, while senior catcher Jordan Mambaje and senior pitcher K.C. Reilly of the Cavaliers were named to the second team.
Three other Clackamas players -- junior second baseman Bubba Jaha, senior pitcher Caden Hennessy, and senior outfielder Casey Peterson -- received all-state honorable mention in a season that saw the Cavaliers win the Mt. Hood Conference title outright and then roll to consecutive playoff wins over Southridge, Century, Westview, Sheldon and West Linn.
"It's hard to compare title teams," said Arnston, recognized as Coach of the Year three others times -- in 2008 and 2010 after guiding the Cavaliers to state titles, and again in 2013 when he was co-Coach of the Year with Sheldon's Stan Manley. "When it's over, you're always proud of your kids. I think this team was a little different than other championship teams in that it maybe was a little more of a balanced team.
"The other two title teams, we kind of had a dominant guy on the mound. This team, it was more of a dominant pitching staff, and, to be honest, the best thing about this team has been our defense. We played really, really good defense all year long, particularly in the playoffs."
In the championship final, Clackamas fell behind West Linn 1-0 in the first inning and then rallied with two runs in the fourth, and three more in the sixth, pulling away for a 5-1 victory at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.
"I don't think getting down shook them at all," Arntson said. "They've been in that situation before and they knew that there was a lot of baseball game left. That's kind of the approach that we took."
Mehlhaff, who played third base and first base for Clackamas, batted .395 (34 for 86) with eight doubles, one triple, two homers, 27 RBIs, and 23 runs scored, hitting in the three spot. He had hits in 24 of the 31 games he played this season, including eight multiple-hit games. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles in a 2-1 win over Verrado at the Coach Bob Invitational in Arizona, and then again went 3-for-4 in an 11-3 rout of Reynolds.
"Greg was absolutely key to our success this year," Arntson said. "He came up with clutch hit after clutch hit for us all year.
"He is such a good baseball player. He works so hard at the game, expecially hit hitting. He is an extremely tough out and a very good fielder as well. He is very deserving of being a first-team, all-state baseball player."
Dennis-Lee, who hit in the leadoff spot for Oregon City, boasted a .427 batting average (38 for 89) with eight doubles, one triple, one homer, 19 RBIs and 23 runs scored. He also drew 21 walks for a .553 on-base percentage, and was 10 for 11 in steal attempts.
"We finished 15-14, but we don't have the season we had without DQ," Pioneers coach J.J. Winkle said. "The kid finished second in the league in RBIs as a leadoff hitter. You don't get that many opportunities as a leadoff hitter to drive in runs, but every time he came up with runners in scoring position, he got the job done.
"We faced a lot of adversity this year in different situations, and DQ handled it way different than he handled it in the past. It was like nothing bothered him this year. If he or anyone else made a mistake, he didn't let it affect his game."
Dennis-Lee, selected to play quarterback for the North team in the upcoming Les Schwab Bowl all-star football game, is planning to pursue baseball at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany next season.
"It's a good move for him," Winkle said. "He's a good, all-around athlete, but I think he has more upside in baseball.
"If he can go there and have a good season, you never know … he might end up palying Division I baseball before it's all said and done. He can play any position, and if he puts in the time, I think the sky is the limit for him."
Centennial senior outfielder Dawson Day was named the Class 6A Player of the Year, and Century's Kolby Somers was named the Pitcher of the Year.
OSAA CLASS 6A
Baxter Halligan, Sr. Lincoln
Austin Carpenter, Sr. Gresham
Wyatt Smith, Sr. McMinnville
Kolby Somers, Sr. Century
Callan McCrae, Sr. Beaverton
Justin Geyer, Sr. North Medford
Aaron Zavala, Jr. South Salem
Isaiah Molaski, Sr. South Eugene
Jake Porter, Sr. West Linn
Tim Tawa, Sr. West Linn
Willie Weiss, Jr. Westview
Brandon Leitgeb, Sr. Lincoln
DeQuahn Dennis-Lee, Sr. Oregon City
Mathew Ismay, Sr. McNary
Kevin Watson Jr., Sr. Beaverton
Jacob Melton, Jr. South Medford
Dawson Day, Sr. Centennial
Max Long, Jr. Sprague
Greg Mehlhaff, Jr. Clackamas
Kenji Lamdin, Soph. Grant
Player of the Year: Dawson Day, Sr., Centennial
Pitcher of the Year: Kolby Somers, Sr. Century
Coach of the Year: John Arntson, Clackamas
Jacob Miller, Sr. West Albany
Jonah Sherman, Sr. South Eugene
K.C. Reilly, Sr. Clackamas
Alex Giroux, Soph. Lake Oswego
Sawyer Medlin, Sr. Grant
Nathan Springer, Jr. Glencoe
Jordan Mambaje, Sr. Clackamas
Trace Hokkanen, Sr. Beaverton
Tanner Sorenson, Sr. Sprague
Wyatt Christophersen, Sr. Beaverton
Sammy Willman, Jr. Grant
Justin Culpepper, Sr. Sprague
Matt Land, Sr. Sheldon
Vincent Zavolta, Sr. Grants Pass
Ben Brauckman, Jr. Westview
Brett Thomas, Sr. Tigard
Jack Fletcher, Jr. Grant
John Arndorfer, Sr. Jesuit
Sam Haney, Jr. Lake Oswego
Harrison Grow, Sr. Sherwood
Eli Morse, Sr. Cleveland
Zack Mandera, Soph. Roseburg
Caden Hennessy, Sr. Clackamas
Taylor Ott, Sr. Tigard
Mick Abel, Fr. Jesuit
Jon Forner, Sr. Lincoln
Ethan Whitney, Sr. South Medford
Lucas Denhert, Sr. Reynolds
Cody Vstal, Sr. Sprague
Ezra Samperi, Jr. Gresham
Parker Kunz, Sr. Tigard
Even Cyrus, Sr. West Salem
Nick Raska, Jr. North Salem
Zach Diehl, Sr. Sheldon
Bubba Jaha, Jr. Clackamas
Tori Doten, Jr. South Salem
Jayce Lien, Jr. West Albany
Kyle Dernedde, Soph. Tualatin
Brendan Ritschard, Sr. Centennial
Tyler Rund, Jr. Grants Pass
Tyler Wood, Sr. Gresham
Casey Peterson, Sr. Clackamas
Chase Cosner, Sr. West Linn
Garrett Marioni, Jr. West Linn
Kasey Buchanen, Sr. North Medford
Gabe Skoro, Sr. Lincoln
Jacob Bunn, Sr. Beaverton
Jacob Biesterfeld, Jr. Gresham