IVHS Cougars head to second round

John Michaels
IVN Contributing Writer

Sophomore Kegan Russell makes a play for a foul ball at home during the 4 – 3 victory Monday, May 20.
(Photo by Laura Mancuso, Illinois Valley News)

With a 2A State Baseball Tournament berth already in hand, the Illinois Valley baseball team completed a sweep of District 6 rival Bonanza with a 29-12 shellacking of the Antlers Friday in Bonanza. The Cougars are now 14-4 on the year and finished in second place in District 6 with a 10-2 mark in league play. Despite winning its only game of the week, I.V. dropped two spots to No. 16 in the 2A baseball rankings by the OSAA this week. The drop in the rankings changed its seeding, but Illinois Valley hosted Country Christian/North Clackamas Christian in the first game in the tournament last Monday.
Sophomore catcher Kegan Russell led the way for the Cougars, perhaps playing the best game of his career. Russell hit for the cycle and reached base in all five plate appearances. He finished with a career high nine runs batted in for the game.
I.V. jumped to an early lead, scoring four runs in the top of the first. Talen Schaffer led off with a walk and scored on Dylan Beals triple to get I.V. on the board seven pitches into the game. Beals scored on a Zack Dugas bunt, with Dugas beating out the bunt. Dugas scored later in the inning when Russell tattooed the ball over the right field fence for a two-run homer, putting the Cougars up 4-0.
Bonanza came back with seven runs in the bottom of the frame, taking a 7-4 lead. The Antlers took advantage of I.V. miscues and scored all seven runs without the benefit of a hit. Bonanza was issued six walks in the inning, there was one hit batter and the Cougars made two errors.

I.V. responded right away crossing the plate five times in the top of the second taking the lead for good. Mike Miller led off the inning with a walk. Schaffer and Beals were both hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Dugas. The junior shortstop singled, bringing home Miller and Schaffer. After an out, Bryson Gilmore doubled, plating Beals and Dugas. Russell reached base on an error, with Gilmore scoring on the play and giving the Cougars and 9-7 lead.
In the third stanza, I.V. kept the hitting barrage going, scoring four more runs. Dugas laced a two-run double, and Russell had an RBI single in the inning. That inning proved to be just an appetizer though.
The Cougars put the game away and invoked the “mercy rule” by scoring 13 runs in the fourth inning. Every spot in the batting order scored at least once in the inning. With one out, Schaffer was again hit by a pitch. He stole second and scored on Beals’ single. Dugas singled. Beals scored when the Antlers’ third basemen misplayed Jozia Williams batted ball. Gilmore was hit by the pitch, loading the bases. Russell tripled to right center, scoring all three runs and leaving him just a double short of the cycle.
Kaiden Green followed with his own triple to nearly the same spot. Jeremiah Izzo, hitting for Braeden Lapora, singled home Green. After Izzo stole second, he scored on Jackson Tincher’s single. Tincher scored when Schaffer doubled. Beals walked and moved to second when Schaffer was caught off base. Dugas singled bringing home Beals. Williams walked and Gilmore doubled sending Dugas in with the 11th run of the inning.
Needing a double to complete hitting for the cycle, Russell did exactly that ripping a shot into right field scoring Williams and Gilmore.
I.V. tacked on two more runs in the top of the fifth. Kyle Porter, hitting in Schaffer’s spot singled. Beals tripled, scoring Porter. Beals then scored when Dugas got his sixth hit of the day, a double to center field.
I.V. unleashed 21 hits in the romp. As previously mentioned, Russell went 4-for-5 while hitting for the cycle with nine RBIs. Dugas also had a monster game going 6-for-6 with a pair of doubles, seven RBIs and scoring five times. Beals went 3-for-4 with a pair of triples and three RBIs. He also walked and was hit by a pitch, scoring six runs in the contest.
Gilmore was 2-for-2, with a pair of doubles and knocked in three runs. He was also hit by a pitch three times and scored four runs. Porter, Izzo and Tincher had the remaining hits for the Cougars.
With a play-off sport already clinched, Illinois Valley went into the game with a pitcher by committee approach. Lapora picked up the win on the mound. Lapora tossed 1 2/3 innings allowing two earned runs. He gave up three hits and a walk, while fanning four. Gilmore tossed two innings, giving up one earned run on one hit and four walks. He struck out five. Williams closed out the game, coming on with two runners on in the fifth. He allowed one inherited baserunner to score an unearned run. He fanned three while walking one.
I.V. hosted Country Christian/North Clackamas Christian in a “pigtail” 2A state tourney game on Monday. I.V. won that game 4 – 3, they will be traveling today to take on the top-seeded Knappa Loggers in Knappa.
The Cougars are optimistic for an exciting 2A tournament run. I.V. has won eight games in a row, not having lost since dropping a 7-6 non-league decision to Oakridge back in April.