West Linn looks ahead to Clackamas battle in Class 6A state title contest
It almost figures.
It almost figures that West Linn and Clackamas would battle one more time in the 2016-17 school year, this time with the two schools' baseball teams due to meet up in the Class 6A state championship game. That matchup is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.
And why not? During football season, the Lions pulled away to beat the Cavaliers 41-20 in the state semifinals.
During basketball season, the Lions and Cavaliers squared off three times, splitting two non-league games and Clackamas taking a 78-71 victory in the state semifinals.
On Saturday, they'll settle their season series on the state's biggest stage.
"It feels great, but we've got one more and that's all we're worried about right now," said West Linn junior second baseman James Marshall following his team's 3-1 semifinal victory over Beaverton on Tuesday. There's "one more to go. We'll come in with a little mojo. We'll come in rolling hot."
"We get one more shot and I think we have enough fight in us" to win, said sophomore third baseman Jonathon Kelly, who doubled and scored his team's first run against Beaverton. "We put the work in, we put the sweat in and I think we can handle it on Saturday."
That said, the Lions know it won't be easy. West Linn, the Three Rivers League champion, enters the championship game as the top-ranked team in the state, carrying a 21-game winning streak and a 27-4 overall record. Included among the Lions' four losses — back when the team opened its 2017 campaign with a 6-4 record in its first 10 games — was a 4-0 loss to the Cavaliers on April 23.
Clackamas, meanwhile, comes into Saturday's title contest as the state's second-ranked team, as Mt. Hood Conference champion, and carrying a 16-game winning streak and 28-3 overall record (including that 4-0 win over the Lions). The Cavaliers beat Sheldon 6-2 in their Tuesday semifinal to earn their spot in Saturday's finale.
This year's Clackamas team landed six players on the all-Mt. Hood Conference first team, led by senior pitchers Caden Hennessy and K.C. Reilly, while Hennessy also was named to the all-league first team as a first baseman. He was joined on the first team by Clackamas catcher Jordan Mambaje, infielders Bubba Jaha and Greg Mehlhaff, and outfielder Casey Peterson.
West Linn, meanwhile, saw seniors Tim Tawa (who was first team all-Three Rivers League as both a pitcher and shortstop) and Jake Porter (first team as a first baseman) share honors as TRL Players of the Year.
They were joined on the all-TRL first team by senior Chase Cosner and junior Garrett Marioni in the outfield, and junior Micah Gibson at catcher. Lions' coach Joe Monahan was named Three Rivers League Coach of the Year.
While the challenge ahead of them is great, the Lions say they'll be ready.
"If it's Clackamas, we'll handle it," said Kelly. "No matter what team it is, we're going to go out and play our baseball and we're going to scrap it out no matter what."
"I think we'll have Tim (Tawa) on the mound and Tim comes with a little attitude so I think he'll be dominant," Cosner said. "When he's pitching, it's going to be a good day. We're going to swing it and it's going to be a good day. As a senior, this is where you want to go out."
"It doesn't matter who we play," Marshall added. "We're always going to bring our best."