The Lions sweep Lake Oswego for a share of the TRL

West Linn put the finishing touches on a truly remarkable regular season last week, finish off a sweep of first-place Lake Oswego to clinch a share of the league title.

The Lions, who have steadily been building confidence all season, closed out the year by winning five of six games against Clackamas and Lake Oswego, two teams considered to be state title contenders. All three of those teams finished TRL play with identical 10-5 records.

Suddenly, a team that likely would have been content with a top-three finish in the TRL and luxury of avoiding a play-in game, enters the postseason as one of the state's hottest teams.

"Early on we lost some close games which is to be expected with a young team but thought, with our talent, if the kids bought in to our system, that we could be here," coach Joe Monahan said.

Last Wednesday, West Linn came alive late in a 9-2 win over the Lakers, keeping their hopes for a league title in tact.

After Lake Oswego scored a run in the first inning, West Linn tied the game in the third when Braden Vogt singled in Parker Huffman.

Then, in the top of the fourth, Jackson Brooke knocked a two-out single into centerfield to score both Will Matthiessen and Brayden Pene.

The game came down to clutch hitting as the Lions plated their first three runs all with two outs. Meanwhile, Lake Oswego threatened multiple times but couldn't get the key hit to blow open the game.

West Linn led 3-2 in the fifth and Lake Oswego loaded the bases with no outs but Jordan Dailey got two key strikeouts and a pop-up to preserve the lead.

The Lakers would load the bases again with no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Trevor Wells relieved Dailey then got a fortunate double play on a line drive to Karsen Lindell at third base and a pop-up to the catcher to end that threat.

"Trevor could easily be a starter for us but he's a guy who's really embraced a role and has been shutting down games for us," Monahan said.

West Linn would then put the game away in the top of the seventh. With one out, Huffman Vogt each reached followed by an error from the Lakers which allowed a run to score.

Then, with the bases loaded, Lindell hit a double into the gap to score a pair of runs. Pene and Ben Jacobs would add RBI singles in the inning to make it 9-2 and Wells threw a perfect seventh inning to set up a crucial game on Friday.

Playing at home in front of a huge crowd, West Linn shut Lake Oswego out 6-0, helping the Lions wrap up one of the most impressive turnaround seasons in the program's history.

Matthiessen took the mound for the Lions and worked out of an early jam on his way to tossing a gem.

West Linn got on the board in the bottom of the third. After Huffman was hit by a pitch, Vogt singled to put runners at the corners, followed by an RBI single from Tim Tawa.

A balk would then score Vogt to make it 2-0. Then, with two outs, Matthiessen belted a 2-2 pitch to left field for a home run.

The two-out rally continued with Pene singling in Nicholas Yokubaitis to make it 5-0.

Matthiessen could cruise from there, throwing five scoreless innings before giving way to Wells, who locked down another West Linn victory.

The Lions were just 6-22 last year but went 16-11 this season, including a 10-5 mark in league. They have won seven of their last eight games, including a 3-2 friendly over McMinnville Tuesday.

"I said when I took the job that we expect to compete for a league title and a state title every year and that starts now," Monahan said.

West Linn is currently ranked No. 12 in the state and will face Roseburg at home on Monday.

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