Lakeridge baseball beats Lake Oswego 7-6 to win season series
Day by day, game by game, inning by inning and at-bat by at-bat, the Lakeridge baseball team is proving that it can play.
The Pacers laid down another marker on their road to improvement in head coach D.J. Whittemore's first year, taking two of three games from crosstown rival Lake Oswego this week. In the process, the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak to the Lakers that stretched back to 2016 and won the season series for the first time since at least 2005.
Lakeridge secured that series with a hard-fought 7-6 win at Lakeridge High School on Wednesday, April 17, rallying to victory with a three-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"It's pretty crazy. It's great to be a part of," said Lakeridge senior designated hitter Brian Hamlin, who went 2 for 3 at the plate, knocked in four runs and scored once. "We've got all the pieces and we're just putting it together, and when we do, we can get something done."
"People are thinking 'Oh, they got lucky one time,' but we need to show them it's every day," said Lakeridge junior third baseman/pitcher John Taylor, who went 2 for 3 at the plate, scored twice and also picked up the win in relief, throwing 3 1/3 innings and allowing one run on three hits and one walk while striking out four. "We're coming out here and giving it our all every day."
Along with their 11-0 victory in the series opener and a 4-0 Lake Oswego win on Thursday, April 18, the Pacers improved to 4-5 in the Three Rivers League and 10-6 overall. The Lakers, meanwhile, lost four straight before their Thursday victory and moved to 2-4 in TRL play and 5-10 overall.
"We've got a lot of young guys, a lot of young guys filling in some spots and we're not playing up to our full potential right now," said Lake Oswego senior shortstop Jackson Laurent, who went 2 for 3 at the plate (including a three-run homer) with three RBIs and two runs scored. "I feel like we're overlooking our opponents a little bit right now, but once we get further into the season, I feel like we are going to turn it around."
"We've got a lot of new guys going in new positions," added Lake Oswego junior first baseman Alex Sol, who went 1 for 2 at the plate with a double and one RBI. "We've just got to click as a team and that will happen soon."
The Lakers started fast in the contest, getting back-to-back singles from Gabe DeVille and Alex Giroux, and then Laurent's three-run bomb to center field off Lakeridge starter Colin Hardy to lead 3-0.
"It felt good off the bat," Laurent said. "I was looking for a fastball to drive and I got the first home run of my high school career."
The Pacers answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, getting a two-out walk from Taylor, a run-scoring double to left by Trent Allen and an RBI single to left from Hamlin to cut the Laker lead to 3-2.
Lakeridge then tied the game in the second, getting a two-out single to right from Derek Seneker, a single off the day's base umpire by Cooper Justice and a run-scoring double to left-center field from Cam Clayton. The Lakers made sure the damage wasn't worse, however, with left fielder Kellen Rice throwing out Clayton as he tried to stretch his hit into a triple.
The Lakers pushed back in front with a two-run third inning, with Giroux reaching base on a one-out walk, Laurent singling to center and Thomas Dukart walking to load the bases. Sol drove in the first run when he grounded out to second base and Laurent came home to score on a wild pitch to give his team a 5-3 edge.
Undaunted, the Pacers crept within 5-4 in their half of the third when Taylor led off with an opposite-field double to left against Laker starter Malcolm Williams, advanced on a fly ball, then scored on Hamlin's grounder to second.
Taylor came on in relief of Hardy in the fourth and helped keep the Lakers off the scoreboard until the seventh, when he gave way to Hayden Moore for the game's final out.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Pacers stepped up and took control for good. Taylor got things started when he singled off Williams' foot, Allen collected an infield single, and after both moved up on an error and a steal, Hamlin doubled to left-center field for two RBIs and a 6-5 Lakeridge lead.
"I was going to bunt it, but then we got guys on second and third in that situation with no outs so I was just going to swing the bat and that's what I did," Hamlin said. "It was a fastball, right there, I saw it in the gap and I just put my head down and started running, trying to get as much as I could out of it."
Spencer Santana followed with a bunt single, and after Williams got two straight outs, Seneker singled to left to give his team a 7-5 edge.
The Lakers' last gasp came in the top of the seventh when Laurent was hit by a pitch, and with two outs and Moore on in relief, Sol doubled to left, Laurent scored on a wild pitch and Williams walked before Moore got Brandon Day on a strikeout to end the game.
"We've just got to work hard and put it in action when it matters most," said Taylor, who also made a behind the back stop on a hard Giroux grounder to start the seventh. "Every game we act like it's our last game so it's the same motivation coming out."
For their part, the Lakers knew they just needed to keep playing hard and getting better.
"Everybody's going to get into a groove and we're going to be playing a lot better," Laurent said. "We know we got snubbed in this game, should have come out with the win, but in the next game, we've got to roll out again and get it going."
"I think being more aggressive at the plate is definitely a big (key) and not taking too many strikes because those are the pitches we are going to drive," Sol added. "Those are the pitches that Jackson drove. I think that's a big thing."
For the game, Seneker went 2 for 3, while teammates Justice and Clayton were each 2 for 4. For Lake Oswego, DeVille went 2 for 4 and Laurent 2 for 3. Williams threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) on 12 hits and one walk while striking out four.