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Lakeridge pitcher Chris Simons and Canby pitcher Sean Wiese battle in pitcher's duel

PMG PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Lakeridge's Chris Simons gets ready to release a pitch during his team's 2-1 win over Canby at Lakeridge High School on Wednesday.With the tying run on first base and no outs in the decisive seventh inning, the Canby baseball team needed one extra-base hit to tie the score.

But Lakeridge played one devastating card, and the Cougars folded.

Lakeridge subbed in closer Tommy Andrew and the Lakeridge senior blew Canby away with three consecutive strikeouts to clinch a 2-1 victory in both teams' Three Rivers League season opener on Wednesday at Lakeridge High School.

"Tommy did his job. He did what he's supposed to do. Tommy has stuff to be a starter, but it's nice to be able to use him every day like that and at the back end of a 2-1 ballgame," Lakeridge coach Marco Tavera said.

The win lifted Lakeridge's TRL record to 1-0 and 4-5 overall, while the Cougars fell to 0-1 in league and 1-5 overall.

The game was a pitcher's duel between two elusive lefty starters, with Lakeridge starter Chris Simons holding Canby hitless for five innings, while Canby sophomore Sean Wiese pitched six innings, struck out seven batters and allowed just one earned run.

"He threw well, kept the ball down and kept hitters off balance. Moving forward, he looks pretty good," Tavera said of Simon.

Lakeridge took the early lead with one run in the first inning when senior Everest Webster's line drive drove in senior Beau Bryant.

Then, in the fourth, Andrew drew a no-out walk, stole second base and senior Brendon Sloan, who led the Pacers with two hits, sent him home with a single to center field.

Other than that though, Wiese kept the Pacers at bay.

"We've been struggling at the plate a little bit and Sean's a great pitcher. He's tough up there, has good stuff and made our guys looks silly at times," Tavera said. "For us to muster five hits and two runs against a kid like him, that's what we have to do in our league."

"Sean has some heat, so when we throw the fastball in, they can't keep up with that and he had his slider and his changeup working great," added Canby catcher Jack Bigej.

Offensively, Canby's patience at the plate was both a gift and a curse. While the Cougars drew five walks in the game, they also watched pitches whiz by for strikes — often with runners in scoring position. The Lakeridge pitching staff finished with 12 strikeouts and the Cougars left at least one runner stranded in scoring position in four innings.

"I think we had way too many strikeouts. We need to put the ball in play," Bigej said. "The umpire's strike zone was low, but we knew that. We just have to put it in play and make them make errors."

However, the Cougars did muster some pop at times.

Bigej drove in Canby's lone run in the sixth inning with a screamer off the left field fence that scored Collin Burge, and also managed another hard-hit ball to the outfield while teammate Tanner Newrones blasted the baseball a few feet from the center field fence for a fly out.

"You're always looking fastball until you get to two strikes," Bigej said. "I just got a couple fastballs right down the middle, middle away, where I was looking and I took them."

Canby also excelled in the field, making just one error while center fielder Kenny Tro lunged for a shoestring catch and left fielder Jordan Petersen also added an athletic snag.

"I thought it was a great play. He gave it all he (had) and came up with the ball. I was pumped," Wiese said of Tro's second-inning catch.

The win marked the Pacers' third in a row after they had lost their previous four games.

Tavera says Lakeridge is finding its groove.

"Counting tonight, this is day eight for us on the field. We're getting our feet under us. We're starting to understand how to pitch, play some ground balls. We took some losses in Arizona and played some really good teams. It hasn't been easy for us but these guys have heart and want to keep battling and getting better," he said.

Wiese hopes the Cougars can bounce back with a win over Lakeridge at Canby High School Friday.

"We have stuff we need to work on (but) we're looking forward to Friday and we are going to try to go out and get a W," he said.

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