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Streaking Champs cap sweep of Community

By WILL CARTER ~ Sports Writer
Posted 4/13/23

BELL BUCKLE — On back-to-back nights, the Cascade Champions and the Community Vikings met on their respective diamonds for a pair of District 7-AA games, and the Champions won both with a 13-3 …

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Streaking Champs cap sweep of Community


BELL BUCKLE — On back-to-back nights, the Cascade Champions and the Community Vikings met on their respective diamonds for a pair of District 7-AA games, and the Champions won both with a 13-3 victory on Monday night in Unionville and a 4-2 victory in Bell Buckle on Tuesday night. 
Tuesday night's win marked five-straight and back-to-back district sweeps for the Champions after starting the season 1-9. 
“The biggest thing is that our guys are getting comfortable in their positions. Early on we were trying to get these guys figured out, and see who can and who can’t,” Cascade head coach Travis Sheffield said.
“Every game it was a different lineup and positioning. I think now we kind of have something concrete and the guys are going out there with a lot more confidence. It’s shown in the last five games.” 
Cascade (6-9, 4-2) took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning after putting the Vikings (4-12, 2-3) down in order in the top half, and followed it up with four hits to plate three runs in the bottom half with Chance Brown leading off with a triple. 
Vikings starting pitcher Mason Russell got out of the inning with a strikeout for his first of the game, and followed it up with three straight in the bottom of the second. 
He totaled 10 strikeouts on the night before being replaced in the bottom of the sixth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Russell found himself in a bases-loaded jam after walking the first three batters he faced, but was able to force three consecutive outs to get out of the inning. 
Vikings head coach Robbie Davis credited Russell for his maturity and growth from a season ago. 
“Mason’s been in some big spots on the mound. Last year he settled in as our No. 2 guy, but this year he’s worked up to our No. 1,” Davis said.
“You could tell, composure wise, where a younger pitcher would have fallen apart, he focused on making the pitch. He’s a veteran guy that’s been through a lot and has learned the game. As he goes, we go.”
After two hitless innings to start the game, the Vikings found some offense in the top of the third inning when Corey Paterick knocked a two-out double to score Thomas Bowling from second for a 3-1 game. 
Cascade answered back with one run in the bottom half off the bat of Jaxon Sheffield who launched a two-out home run shot over the center field wall to make it 4-1. 
Sheffield went 2-for-3 at the plate with the one RBI on the night, and made some key defensive plays at third base to lead the Champions. 
“He showed up at the ballpark and didn’t know he was playing third base. He normally pitches on Tuesdays, but he had to pitch last night and play third tonight with Walker Craig being dinged up. He made the first couple of outs, played well, and grinded at the plate,” Sheffield said. 
The Vikings found their rhythm at the plate in the top of the fourth inning as they knocked three straight singles to load the bases, and Bowling followed it up with a hard ground ball to score Blaine Paschal from third to make it 4-2. 
Paschal led the Vikings with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate. 
After Russell struck out the side for his second time of the night in the bottom of the fourth, the Vikings found themselves with two runners on base and one out in the top of the fifth. 
Sheffield elected to make a pitching change, and brought Brown in from the outfield to take the mound in place of Logan Green, who came in the game in the fourth inning for Zach Crosslin. 
After the change, Cascade secured the final two outs of the inning in one at-bat with catcher Noah McGeary catching a runner stealing and Brown fanning the batter three pitches later. 
Brown was credited with the win after tossing 2 and 2/3 innings with four strikeouts. 
“If we plan on going as far as I think we can go, it’s gonna take a lot of arms. Having those guys come in and throw quality innings is big,” Sheffield said. “ I need them to believe that we can go six deep in the bullpen. We don’t have a number one guy, and I tell all six of them to be ready to start because it can be any of them any night.”
An inning later, Community was within striking distance again with runners on first and second, but ultimately couldn’t push any runs across as Brown struck out the final batter of the inning. 
Outside of a single from the Vikings in the top of the seventh inning, neither team got much going in the final frame, and the Champions walked away with the victory. 
For Davis, the early lead Community gave up and missed opportunities with runners on proved costly. 
“Going back to the first inning we made a bad play right off the bat on the leadoff guy by not keeping the ball in front of us, and they got a triple out of it. They took advantage of that mistake: put the ball in play and put a three spot up,” Davis said. “For us, we get a lot of guys on but the bottom of our lineup can’t turn it over. We had some situations like that tonight.”

Community 001 100 0 — 2 6 0
Cascade 301 000 x — 4 5 0

Comm.: Blaine Pashcal 2-for-3, Jaxson Roberts 1-for-1, Makhi Fleming 1-for-3, Dallas Grooms 1-for-3, Corey Paterick 1-for-4.
Cascade: Jaxon Sheffield 2-for-3, Chance Brown 1-for-2, Conner Melson 1-for-3, Sawyer Lovvorn 1-for-3. 
WP: Brown
LP: Russell