Softball: Lake Oswego rides five-run eighth to 11-6 win at Oregon City
The Oregon City Pioneers had the Lake Oswego Lakers right where they wanted them in the seventh inning — down a run and one strike away from closing out Wednesday's home softball game.
Lake Oswego's Vivian Rittenour changed all that.
Rittenour's two-out, RBI-single to center scored Layney Lombardo with the tying run in the seventh and Lake Oswego tacked on five more runs in the eighth, rallying past the Pioneers for an 11-6 Three Rivers League road win.
Lake Oswego's Marin Penney went 4 for 5 with a two-run homer and Lombardo added three hits and four RBIs to lead a 16-hit attack that carried the Lakers (10-8, 4-1 Three Rivers) into a first-place tie with Tualatin, one game ahead of Tigard.
Penney also went the distance on the mound, surrendering six runs on seven hits with seven walks and five strikeouts.
"That was probably one of the most intense games I've ever been in," said Penney, the Lakers' senior right-hander. "There were a lot of lead changes and I think the key to our game was we weren't complacent and we kept scoring runs, knowing teams can come back just like we can."
For Oregon City, Isabelle Lewis went 2 for 4 with an RBI-double in the sixth inning that scored Phoebe Borkus and gave the Pioneers a 6-5 lead.
In the seventh, Lake Oswego's Sofia Tosoni led off with a single to right field, but then was erased when Lombardo grounded into a 4-6 fielder's choice. Lombardo advanced to second on Maddie Sticka's groundout and then went to third on Penny's single to right.
Next came Rittenour, the No. 5 batter in the Lake Oswego lineup, who drove a 1-2 pitch from Oregon City reliever Aliyah Kelly into center field, pushing Lombardo home with the tying run.
The Pioneers threatened in the home half of the seventh when Hannah Stewart led off with an infield single and Emilia Coffman followed with a walk, putting the potential winning run into scoring position with none out. But the threat ended when Penney retired Emily Dugan and Avery Brokus on fly outs to left and then got Hannah Vickery to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice to second.
In the eighth, Lake Oswego sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs on three hits, one hit batter, one walk, and two Oregon City errors. Tosoni drew a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to push home Lainey Chi with the go-ahead run. Chloe Carnegie, Tosoni, Sticka, and Penney also came around to score.
"What a team effort," Lake Oswego coach Chris Gobel said. "I like how aggressive we were at the plate, and I loved our aggressive base-running, too. We put the ball in play and made Oregon City earn the outs. "
Lewis got a two-out single for Oregon City in the eighth and advanced to second on a throwing error, but was stranded in scoring position when Penney retired Avery Pattison on a game-ending groundout to second.
"What I told the girls after the game was we didn't lose that game in the top of the eight, we didn't win it in the bottom of the seventh," Oregon City coach Dave Adelhart said. "We made a couple of mental mistakes there. We should have got that winning run in and it just didn't happen. That's the breaks of the game, I guess.
"Lake Oswego came out fired up in the top of the eighth and they scored a lot of runs and we didn't answer. I think we may have tensed up, but I don't know."
Penney, the Lakers' senior right-hander, had something to do that. She wasn't overpowering, but she made big pitches when she needed them — none bigger than the called third strike to end the fifth inning with the bases loaded and the Lakers clinging to a 5-4 lead.
"I knew this game was going to be my game to pitch, so I was rested and I knew I just had to take it one inning at a time, one batter at a time," said Penney, who threw 147 pitches in the game, 78 for strikes. "I definitely made a few mistakes, but that's okay.
"Fatigue can definitely be a factor when you're pitching. I think one bad inning is inevitable for a pitcher in most softball games, but I felt pretty good the whole time."
After Oregon City took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Lake Oswego scored three in the second and added two more runs in the fifth on Penney's homer to make it 5-2.
The Pioneers (7-10, 3-3) answered with two runs in the home half of the fifth and two more in the sixth to regain a 6-5 lead, but it wasn't enough.
"Coming back was great," Adelhart said. "That's the way this team has been all year. They fight and they fight and they fight, and coming back and taking the lead was huge."
Unfortunately for the Pioneers, the lead didn't hold up and their three-game winning streak came to an end to close out the first half of league play.
Oregon City has a non-conference game scheduled Friday at Mountainside in Beaverton and then jump back into league play with a home game Monday against Tigard, a road game Wednesday against West Linn at Rosemont Middle School, and a home game Friday against Tualatin.
"In this league, when you're fighting against Tigard and Tualatin and Lake Oswego, you have to perform your best every day," Adelhart said. "The girls focused really hard on getting ready for this game today, mentally preparing themselves.
"It was a good game. It really was. It's a little bit heartbreaking for the girls, and for me, too, watching them work so hard and then seeing the bottom drop out like it did."
After a 0-5 start to the season, the Pioneers have made significant progress and are still very much in the hunt for one of the 32 spots in the OSAA's Class 6A playoff bracket.
"Given the right circumstances and maybe if we can get a few breaks to go our way, we're going to do good in the playoffs," Adelhart said. "The first goal is to get into the playoffs. I don't know what this loss does to our power ranking, but we were No. 25, and this year, with no play-in games, as long as you stay above No. 32, you're fine.
"Our goal is to make the playoffs and we don't care who we play, because we've played almost all of the teams ranked in the top 10 and we've played them all well."
Lake Oswego closes out the first half of league play Friday at home against Tigard, and then returns home Monday to face West Linn. The Lakers also have a Wednesday road game against Tualtian.