Beaverton's fast start sinks Lake Oswego 9-6 in baseball quarterfinals
The Lake Oswego baseball team did everything an underdog was supposed to do on Friday.
The 28th-ranked Lakers, playing at No. 4 Beaverton in the Class 6A state quarterfinals, scored two runs in the top of the first inning, then saw starting pitcher Colin Mitchell set down two of the first three batters he faced.
But it all went wrong for Lake Oswego from there.
Starting with two outs and a runner on first base, the Beavers' next nine batters reached base safely, banging out five hits — including a grand slam by senior Kevin Watson — scoring nine runs and setting the table for their eventual 9-6 victory at Beaverton High School.
"That was huge for us," said Watson, who went 1 for 2 with four RBIs and two runs scored. "We basically just came together, a group of brothers, and we rallied. We brought the energy and that's what happens."
"We always know that we are going to come with bats and swing them," added senior shortstop Karac Leyva, who went 1 for 3, knocked in a run and scored once. "We were confident that we were going to score some runs, but we jumped on them pretty hefty that first inning."
With the win, the Beavers — the Metro League runners-up — improved to 24-5 overall and advanced to face West Linn in the state semifinals on Tuesday, likely at 5 p.m. Lake Oswego, meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak (including two straight playoff upsets) snapped and ended its year at 13-17.
Despite the loss, the Lakers left proud of their efforts, holding Beaverton scoreless for the next five innings and closing within three runs before stranding two runners in their final at-bat.
"When we first came into the playoffs as the No. 28 seed, we knew we'd upset a ton of people and we were just hoping to get to the championship," said Lake Oswego senior second baseman Harrison Bridwell, who went 3 for 4 at the plate, knocked in one run and scored once. "We battled as hard as we could, it just didn't end up the way we wanted it to."
"We had chances (against playoff foes Sprague and Lincoln) where we could have flaked out and lost, but we took what the situation was, understood that we had to put it together and grind and battle back through adversity, but we just couldn't do it today," added senior first baseman Dawson Jaramillo, who went 2 for 4 and also knocked in a run.
The Lakers, facing Beaverton starter, Callan McRae, opened the game by loading the bases (getting singles by Matt Sebolsky and Jake Dukart) with no outs, then saw Alex Giroux ground into a double play that kept the score at 0-0. Undeterred, Dukart scored on a wild pitch with Jaramillo at the plate, and Jaramillo followed with a hard single off Leyva's glove to make it 2-0.
Mitchell, a senior right-hander, got outs against two of the first three batters he faced in the bottom of the first, but saw it all go south after that. Jacob Bunn got things started with an RBI single that plated Watson, Trace Hokkanen reached base on a bloop single to center field and McRae followed with a single to left to score another run to make it 2-2.
After next batter Manuel Castineira walked, Mitchell struck out Joe Hollowell — but his third-strike pitch hit the dirt and ricocheted off catcher Joe West's glove straight into the air, allowing Hollowell to reach first, Hokkanen to score and the inning to continue.
Leyva came through next with an RBI single to left, Ryan Hekker walked to force in another run and Watson followed with a grand slam homer to right field that gave the Beavers a commanding 9-2 lead.
"I was being aggressive because I had two strikes on me and I was basically just looking for a ball middle in," Watson said. "I was just trying to do what I do and I ended up cranking it over the fence. I knew it was gone."
"One through nine, all of us can hit," Leyva said. "We're confident we can hit the ball and I think the rest of the team is confident in the rest of our lineup."
To their great credit — and especially to Mitchell's credit — the Lakers did not quit. Mitchell settled himself after that disastrous first inning and didn't allow a run over the next four innings, shutting down the Beavers on two hits and one walk while striking out two in that stretch.
Offensively, Lake Oswego didn't score again until the fifth, but missed one golden opportunity before then. In the second inning, the Lakers loaded the bases on singles by Bridwell, Thomas Dukart and Sebolsky with one out, but saw McRae escape unscathed when Jake Dukart grounded into a double play.
Then, after stranding single runners in the third and fourth frames, the Lakers broke through for three runs in the top of the fifth. There, with two outs, Giroux reached base on an error, Jaramillo singled to center, and Jackson Laurent singled past Hollowell at third base to make it 9-3.
Next hitter Bridwell singled to center to plate pinch runner Alex Vlaisavich, and Ben Shimota then came through with an RBI single to center that knocked McRae from the game and brought the Lakers within 9-5.
"We really battled throughout the year," Bridwell said. "We knew we had to change some things and battle as hard as we could."
After a scoreless sixth, the Lakers took their last shot at victory against Beaver reliever Kellen O'Connor in the top of the seventh. O'Connor got the first out, then saw Bridwell single up the middle, Gabe Deville walk and Bridwell score on a Beaverton error with two outs. But O'Connor bore down there and struck out Jake Dukart to end the game.
"We all believe in ourselves," Watson said. "We all believed we could win this and … that's what happened."
"We're grateful for the season that we had and the comeback that we made, but at the end of the day, we couldn't get it done," Jaramillo added.
Sebolsky went 2 for 5 at the plate for Lake Oswego; no Beaverton player had more than one hit.