BACK (L-R): Coach Josh Blunt, Assistant Zach Kayser, Logan Roberts, Boone Casarez, Bryan Jakiemiec, Austin Crowson, Landen Bourassa, Josh Rodriquez, Drew Smernes, Brad O'Connor, DJ Wilson, Jordan Hadley, Hank Forrest, Assistant Josh Hogan. MIDDLE (L-R): Kyle Keith, David Bellamy, Bryce Tilton, Josh Overstreet, Sammy Silva, Cooper Webster, Elis Stratton, Austin Vaughn. FRONT (L-R): Bruin Campbell, Bailey Castro, Brannon Whyte, Ben Giland, Brody Rich, Skyelor Ishikawa, Paul Turner, Aaron Hutchinson, Cam Russ.
Titans matriculate to top schools
By Ron Richmond | The Register-Guard
Last year, Lane baseball coach Josh Blunt enjoyed a banner “reverse” recruiting season when seven of his players moved on to four-year colleges.
This season’s been even better, with as many as eight Titans on the move, including three who have signed letters of intent with NCAA Division I programs.
The latest is outfielder David Bellamy, a Sheldon High product who signed Wednesday to play at New Mexico State.
Lane’s other big-school recruits are pitchers Brad O’Connor, a 6-foot-5 right-hander out of Springfield High who signed with Marshall, and Kyle Keith, another righty from Casper, Wyo., who signed with Northern Colorado but is expected to return to Lane after a medical redshirt year.
“One of our two primary responsibilities is to get young men to the next level and find the appropriate schools,” said Blunt, who had two local pitchers, Shane Quarterley of Springfield and Jackson Bertsch of Pleasant Hill, sign last spring with Division I Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
“We’ve been pretty good at doing that.”
O’Connor pitched the past two seasons for the Titans and chose to sign with the Thundering Herd in early May.
Bellamy, meanwhile, opted for a more risk-reward approach. He transferred last summer after his freshman year at Division II Saint Martin’s in Lacey, Wash., for one season at Lane in hopes of playing his way into a Division I offer.
Then he made the gamble pay off. After batting .399 for the Titans, third best in the Northwest Athletic Conference, and tying for the team lead with 27 RBIs, Bellamy heard the Aggies come calling with a late pitch for a left-handed-hitting outfielder with a good glove and speed, a knack for getting on base and room to grow into his 6-1 frame.
“It’s a good fit for him,” Blunt said. “He’ll get the right amount of opportunities to contribute and the right amount of challenges.”
Two more Titans, infielders Bruin Campbell of Tigard and Bryce Tilton of Sandy, are staying in-state to play for Division II Concordia and Western Oregon, respectively.
“Those are two really good fits,” Blunt said.
Three others are headed to Kentucky to play at NAIA schools. Pitchers Logan Roberts, from Lake Forest, Calif., and DJ Wilson, from Bend, have signed with Campbellsville University.
Roberts, who Blunt said drew strong interest from scouts for the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres for his power arm and potent bat (.357, six HRs, 27 RBIs), went undrafted but still could sign a free-agent deal this summer.
Also, Ben Giland, a South Eugene graduate who batted .324 splitting time with Bellamy in center field and at catcher this season, is headed for Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky. The Blue Raiders shared the Mid-South Conference title with Campbellsville this spring.
As for Blunt’s own needs for next season, the Titans appear to be well-stocked, especially on the mound. Lane pitchers who accounted for about 320 of this year’s 360 innings are expected back, led by 6-5 left-hander Austin Crowson of Monroe, who was 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA as a freshman, and 6-4 righty reliever Drew Smermes out of Churchill.
Starting shortstop Cam Russ (.265, 27 RBIs) also is expected back to anchor the infield. He’s playing with Crowson, Bellamy and Wilson for the Medford Rogues in the wood-bat Great West League.
Blunt also sees Kellen Strahm, a former Oregon walk-on and Sheldon star who’s rebounding from ACL surgery after being injured in an all-star football game last summer, filling one outfield spot and batting fourth or fifth next spring.
Colton Sakamoto, a lefty bat who signed with Oregon and was drafted in the 37th round by Seattle in 2015 out of Westview High, pencils into another outfield spot. Trevor Casanova, who hit .277 with a team-leading 33 RBIs as a Titan freshman before taking last year off from school, should team with Russ on the left side at third.
“We expect to compete for a championship and try to put ourselves in a position to play on the final day of the year,” said Blunt, whose 2016 Titans finished 29-14 and made the NWAC playoffs. “The pieces are there to compete at a very high level, but we now have to learn to prepare together and pull the rope in the same direction.”
Red-hot Titans now alone in first in South
OREGON CITY — David Bellamy went 6-for-8 on the day, and Lane took sole possession of the South Region lead in the Northwest Athletic Conference baseball race with a doubleheader sweep of Clackamas on Saturday.
The Titans (27-9, 15-5) have won 13 in a row and have a one-game lead in the South on Mount Hood, which split its twinbill with Chemeketa.
Bellamy, a sophomore out of Sheldon High, was 4-for-4 with an RBI in the 9-7 opening win. Bruin Campbell drove in three runs and Logan Roberts was 3-for-4 with a double and triple.
In Lane’s 8-1 win in the nightcap, Bellamy added two more hits, including a double, to raise his average to .412, third best in the NWAC. Bryce Tilton and Jordan Hadley each drove in two runs to back the three-hit pitching of Austin Crowson (6-1) and Drew Smermes.
The Cougars (5-29, 3-21) have lost their last 17 games.
Lane finishes its regular season with a four-game, home-and-home series against Chemeketa next weekend.
Titans take over first with 11th straight win
Logan Roberts doubled in the tying run in the seventh inning and scored two batters later on a balk to give Lane an 8-7 walk-off win over Clackamas for its 11th consecutive victory and a sweep of the Northwest Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader at Titan Field on Friday.
The Titans (25-9, 13-5) are tied with Mount Hood for the NWAC South Region lead with six games remaining.
The Titans took the opener, 6-0, behind the three-hit pitching of Kyle Keith (4-1) through eight innings. David Bellamy and Jordan Hadley each had a double and two of Lane’s 11 hits.
Titans’ sweep pushes win streak to seven
COOS BAY — Cam Russ drove in six runs and Lane ran its winning streak to seven games with a Northwest Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader sweep of Southwestern Oregon Community College on Saturday.
Russ had four RBIs in an 11-4 opening win for the Titans (21-9, 9-5 South Region). Brody Rich also drove in two runs, Ben Giland went 4-for-5 and Logan Roberts added a solo home run as Lane banged out 16 hits in the romp over the Lakers (10-25, 4-12).
In the nightcap, Russ had two more RBIs to tie David Bellamy for the team lead with 18 in an 8-2 victory. Giland and Bellamy each had two of Lane’s seven hits.
Landen Bourassa (3-1) struck out seven over 4 1/3 innings in the win.