West Linn wins again over Lake Oswego, takes Three Rivers lead
The Lake Oswego baseball team struck first.
But when West Linn struck back, the Lions struck back hard.
In this week's three-game series between two of the Three Rivers League's top teams, the Lakers broke through with a tight 4-3 win on Tuesday, then saw West Linn answer with an 8-4 victory on Wednesday.
That set up Friday's finale at Lake Oswego High School with the TRL lead on the line and the Lions did indeed strike hard, scoring five times in the second inning to beat Lake Oswego 6-2 on the Lakers' home field.
"It's a big win. We're coming out and now we're in control of the league," said West Linn senior pitcher Zach Anderson, who threw a complete game, allowing two runs on six hits, one walk and one hit batter while striking out three. "We can go out and we have our destiny in our own hands."
"We were feeling a little rough after the first game, but we bounced back, hit the ball around the yard and had our momentum coming in," said West Linn senior catcher Micah Gibson, who went 2 for 4 at the plate and knocked in two runs. "We carried that into this game and scored a couple of runs early, and that carried us through the game."
With the win, West Linn's second straight, the Lions improved to 11-3 in Three Rivers play and 15-7 overall. Lake Oswego, meanwhile, lost for a second straight time and fell to 10-4 (and a three-way tie for second with Tualatin and Sherwood) and 13-10 overall.
"I think we were just in our heads early on because they put up (those five runs) and we were swinging for the fences trying to get back," said Lake Oswego sophomore right fielder Thomas Dukart, who went 2 for 3 at the plate and scored once. "We just needed to hit piece by piece and score runs easy."
"In baseball, you kind of have to take what's given to you and flush (the bad stuff)," said Laker senior designated hitter Dawson Jaramillo, who went 2 for 3 with two doubles and one RBI. "We've come back in games like that before, like against Sherwood and Tualatin. Every inning is a new inning. Every at-bat is a new at-bat."
After a scoreless first inning with Anderson and Lake Oswego starter Malcolm Williams each facing just three batters, the Lions broke on top in the second frame. In the top of the second, West Linn's J.J. Hoover led off with a line drive single to right field that just skipped off the top of Laker second baseman Matt Grimm's glove, Zach Bell reached base on a one-out error and Griffin Banta walked to load the bases.
Anderson came through to drive in the game's first run with a single to center field, Drew Vannaman singled to right to knock in another run and James Marshall made it 3-0 with an infield single to the right side.
Williams got the second out when Jonathan Kelly grounded to third base and Jackson Laurent threw home for a force, but the Lions weren't done. Gibson stepped up next, singled to center field and plated both Vannaman and Marshall for a 5-0 lead.
"Our whole lineup likes to apply pressure and we keep it on. We don't give anything to them," Gibson said. "We like to stay with it and … when we get a couple hits, we like to keep it rolling and keep the pressure on."
West Linn did just that in the third inning, adding its sixth run when Anderson reached base on a fielder's choice with two outs, moved up on a wild pitch and scored when Marshall singled to right to give the Lions a 6-0 lead.
But Laurent came on in relief of Williams for the final out of the third, settled the Lions' bats in the day's final four innings and gave his offense a chance to come alive. The Lakers, after managing just four baserunners in the game's first four innings, finally broke through against Anderson in the bottom of the fifth.
Dukart led off with an infield single, took second on a West Linn throwing error and scored when Jaramillo hit a ground-rule double down the right-field line. Pinch runner Kellen Rice took third on a fly ball, then scored when Grimm grounded to second to bring the Lakers' within 6-2.
While the Lions didn't score again, Anderson made sure it didn't matter. Lake Oswego's Alex Giroux led off the sixth with a single to left field and took second on an outfield error by the Lions, but got gunned down trying to reach third and the Lakers didn't score. And finally, in the seventh, Jaramillo hit a one-out, opposite-field double down the left field line before Anderson got the game's final two outs.
"I wasn't feeling all my stuff too much, but I was locating my fastball pretty well and used all three pitches successfully and it went well," Anderson said.
For their part, the Lakers left determined to focus on their final three regular-season games — they finish with a three-game set against rival Lakeridge — and get back into first place. The Lions finish with a three-game set against Sherwood.
"We're going to take care of things against Lakeridge. We always do," Jaramillo said. "That's a team we always look forward to playing."
For the game, Marshall went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and one run, Anderson was 1 for 3 with one RBI and one run, and Vannaman went 1 for 2 with one RBI and one run. For Lake Oswego, Laurent pitched the final 4 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on just one hit and one walk while striking out one.