BELL BUCKLE — In their regular season finale on Monday night, the Cascade Champions totaled 20 RBIs on 13 hits as Walker Craig led the way with a two-run homer and a grand slam to beat the …
BELL BUCKLE — In their regular season finale on Monday night, the Cascade Champions totaled 20 RBIs on 13 hits as Walker Craig led the way with a two-run homer and a grand slam to beat the Antioch Bears 21-1 via a five-inning mercy rule.
Champions head coach Travis Sheffield used three pitchers in the game as Conner Melson got the nod for the first time this season — giving up two hits while striking out four – and Chance Brown and Logan Green combined for four strikeouts over the final two innings.
“We hit the ball well and made some good plays early. Walker had a huge day at the plate to give us some runs early in the game,” Sheffield said. “Other than that, we threw the ball over the plate and that’s been our nemesis. If we can do that on a consistent basis, we are a dangerous team.”
After Melson gave up a lone double to the Bears (10-13-1) in the top of the first inning, the Champions (10-15) went to work at the plate with four runs in the bottom half.
Brown led off the half inning with a double, and he scored in the next at-bat to make it 1-0 as Noah McGeary hit an infield single.
Two at-bats later, McGeary advanced to third on an error, and Sawyer Lovvorn singled to bring him home for a 2-0 advantage.
The final two runs of the inning came from Craig’s bat as he swung hard on the third pitch he saw, and watched it sail over the left-field wall for a two-run blast and 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second inning, Melson gave up a lone single while striking out two batters to keep the Bears at bay.
Cascade added to its lead with two runs in the bottom half of the inning as Jaxon Sheffield scored Brown from second on a hard ground out, and Lovvorn followed it with a single to score McGeary from third.
A pair of Champion errors in the top of the third led to the Bears pushing across their lone run of the game to make it 6-1, but they made up for it with six runs in the bottom half to extend their lead to 12-1.
After the bases were loaded without a hit recorded, a pair of walks scored the first two runs of the inning, and the Bears made a change on the mound before Craig stepped up to the plate.
Craig watched the first pitch go by for a strike but not the second.
Very similar to his first homer of the game, he dug in and blasted the second pitch over the left-field wall for a grand slam and a 12-1 advantage for Cascade.
Craig went 3-for-4 at the plate with seven RBIs.
“He’s been down for two weeks with a hamstring pull, but he’s such a hard worker. He’s constantly in the batting cage working on his craft and trying to get better,” Sheffield said. “He’s one of those guys that good is not good enough. When he sees good pitches and stays patient, he’s very dangerous up there.”
With a large lead in hand, Brown entered the game to relieve Melson on the mound, and struck out the side in his only inning of work.
Cascade put the nail in the coffin in the bottom half by batting around the lineup for nine runs on five hits to bring the game to its final score of 21-1.
Lovvorn singled twice in the inning to complete a perfect 4-for-4 day at the dish.
With the blowout victory, the Champions closed out the season on a three-game win streak heading into the most important part of the season – the District 7-AA tournament.
“We needed this stretch of games for our confidence. We had a big let down at the end of the season, losing two that got away from us,” Sheffield said. “Going into the tournament with a win streak is huge for us.”
Antioch 001 00 — 1 2 5
Cascade 426 9x — 21 13 3
Cascade: Sawyer Lovvorn 4-for-4, Walker Craig 3-for-4, Noah McGeary 2-for-3, Chance Brown 2-for-4, Logan Green 1-for-3, Jaxon Sheffield 1-for-4.