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PREP BASEBALL: Central Catholic knocks off Tualatin

by: DAN BROOD - Central Catholic sophomore Cole Stringer gets ready to fire a pitch to the plate during the Rams' 3-2 win over Tualatin in a Class 6A state playoff first-round game played Monday at Tualatin High School.TUALATIN — With the bases loaded and his team trailing by one run in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday, Tualatin's clean-up hitter stepped to the plate.

The Timberwolves, ranked eighth in Class 6A by the Oregon School Activities Association, had sprayed 12 hits but managed only two runs — both controversial — in their first-round state playoff game against 27th-ranked Central Catholic.

Rams sophomore pitcher Cole Stringer needed one more out to get the victory and a complete game in a tough place for opponents and against a tough group of hitters.

"I felt good," Stringer said. "I tried to see it as just another game."

Tualatin senior Austin Marsh looked two balls from Stringer, and then took a strike. On the 2-1 pitch, Marsh hit a roller to second baseman Charlie Farrenkoph, one of only two seniors in Central Catholic's starting lineup.

"I have 100 percent faith in him," Stringer said.

Farrenkoph made the routine play, which was anything but that, given the situation, and the Rams rejoiced over their 3-2 upset.

"I actually didn't think we played that well," Central Catholic coach Dan Floyd said, "but we did what we always try to do against teams that are bigger, stronger and more talented — we laid down some bunts, stole bases and forced them to throw the ball around.

"We got some runs and a little momentum."

And Stringer did the rest, striking out six while walking only one batter, in the final inning.by: DAN BROOD - Central Catholic senior second baseman Charlie Farrenkoph makes a throw to first base during the Rams' 3-2 state playoff win at Tualatin on Monday.

"He pitched the way he does every game," Floyd said. "The only question is whether he's going to go seven."

He did, although Tualatin, trying hard to erase the one-run deficit, extended the suspense with a one-out walk and a pair of two-out hits.

"Those guys are great hitters," Stringer said of the Timberwolves. "They'd hit it if I threw outside, they'd hit it if I went inside, and they'd hit it if it was over the plate.

"After you go through their lineup one time, it's hard to do something else against them."

Still, the Rams did just enough — offensively and defensively — and created just enough havoc to beat a team that had won 14 in a row and had gone 16-1 in league with a one-run loss in 10 innings to rival Tigard.

Central Catholic, 15-12 overall, has struggled to score runs much of the season, but the Rams' six hits (with one walk and one hit batter) were enough Monday afternoon.

The Mount Hood Conference's third-place team took a 1-0 lead in the third. Leadoff man Ronnie Rust, a freshman catcher, was hit by a pitch, moved to second on sophomore Nathan Schaffer's sacrifice and went to third on a line single to center by junior Holden Oglesbee. Rust scored on junior Anthony Brink's fly out to center field.

Tualatin came right back in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a disputed call.

With two out, Jon Fishback singled to left. Joey Fishback tried to score from second on the hit. The throw got to Rust, who was standing in front of the plate. Joey Fishback barrelled into Rust, who got up with the ball in his glove but saw the umpire call the runner, still standing, safe at home.

"All year, that's been an out," Floyd said. "If two guys bump like that, it's an out. Apparently the rule changed today. We got hosed on that call."

As the safe call was sinking in, Jon Fishback kept running, making it all the way to third base.

That proved big, as well, as he was able to score and give Tualatin a 2-1 lead when the next batter, Brandon Schroyer, singled to left.

The Rams responded in the fourth, though. Farrenkoph led off with a single. Sophomore Gabe Scanlon got on board, too, on a grounder to third, as the fielder's throw to second was too high.

Tualatin made another infield mistake when the next batter, Stringer, grounded to shortstop. The T-Wolves attempted to get a force at third, but the throw got away, allowing Farrenkoph to score.

Tualatin got the next two Rams out, but then Schaffer delivered an RBI single that gave Central Catholic its 3-2 lead.

The Rams managed only one more hit off senior Connor Scott, who struck out eight.

But Central Catholic pulled through with key plays here and there.

The Rams turned a double-play on a pop bunt to first base after Joey Fishback had led off the Tualatin fifth with a single.

Marsh began the Timberwolves' sixth with a single, stole second and got to third on a passed ball — with nobody out. But Stringer escaped on a strikeout, an easy ground ball to first and a grounder to shortstop Scanlon, whose throw just beat the batter.

Central Catholic earned a second-round date Wednesday at Lake Oswego. The Lakers held off visiting Tigard 2-1 on Monday.

Elsewhere in the 32-team 6A tourney:

• North Medford eliminated upstart David Douglas 17-2, Southridge won at MHC champion Reynolds 3-0, visiting Lakeridge stopped Westview 6-2, Grant got a 3-2 road win over North Salem, Clackamas beat visiting Sunset 5-0, defending champion Oregon City overpowered host Grants Pass 11-1, Crater ousted visiting West Linn 14-6, West Salem nudged visiting Lincoln 2-1, host Jesuit pounded Hillsboro 11-4, and Sprague got a 6-5 home win over Barlow.