Lakeridge baseball wins 5-4, snaps losing streak to West Linn
This one was a long time coming for the Lakeridge baseball team.
The Pacers, hosting West Linn in the finale of their three-game series on Friday, April 26, had already dropped the first two games of the week to the Lions. Indeed, the Pacers hadn't beaten West Linn in seven previous games, a streak that stretched all the way back to May 11 of 2016.
But that unfortunate streak is now history for Lakeridge.
Pacer junior outfielder/third baseman John Taylor made sure of that when he hit an opposite-field walk-off single with the bases loaded to beat West Linn 5-4 at Lakeridge High School on Friday.
"That was fun," said Taylor, who also hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning and went 3 for 4 at the plate with three RBIs and one run scored. "We've always got to stay with it the whole game, fight to the end. In this case, it worked out for us."
"I've been watching Lakeridge baseball since I was in fourth grade and I honestly don't remember the last time Lakeridge took one from West Linn," said Lakeridge shortstop/pitcher Cam Clayton, who went 2 for 2 at the plate, walked twice, scored twice and also picked up the win in relief of starter Spencer Santana. "Seeing this happen feels really good to be a part of it."
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Pacers and lifted their TRL record to 5-7 (good for fourth place) and 11-7 overall. West Linn, meanwhile, saw its seven-game winning streak snapped and fell to 10-2 in TRL play and 13-6 overall. Despite the loss, the Lions are still in sole possession of first place in the TRL, holding a three-game lead over second-place Tigard.
"I think two out of three is good, but I felt like we should have won this game today," said West Linn sophomore starter Kyle Sullivan, who threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and one walk with two strikeouts. "We won the other two games and it should have been a total sweep of the series."
"We are always in every game we play so I thought we definitely had a fighting chance," said West Linn senior left fielder Garrett Wiancko, who went 1 for 3 at the plate with a three-run homer in the top of the sixth inning. "It's unfortunate to end the game the way we did, but those guys are good. Every game was close."
After Santana threw a scoreless first inning for Lakeridge, Taylor got his team on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the frame. Clayton got things started with a one-out single to left field and Taylor followed with a two-run homer to center field off Sullivan for a 2-0 Pacer lead.
After a scoreless second inning, the Lions scratched back within 2-1 in the top of the third when J.K. Kelly singled to left, took second on an error and scored when Caden Parker singled to center.
Then, after scoreless fourth and fifth innings, the game really heated up in the sixth. West Linn struck first, getting back-to-back walks by Zach Bell and Chase Bartley, and Wiancko's long drive to right field — a shot that landed on top of the right field fence and bounced over for a three-run homer — gave the Lions a 4-2 lead.
"I didn't see it hit the fence. I was sprinting out of the box," Wiancko said of his first career home run. "I didn't know if it was gone or not, to be honest."
The Pacers answered in their half of the sixth, though, getting a one-out walk by Clayton, a Taylor single to center and an RBI double off the left field fence by Trent Allen. Allen's hit ended Sullivan's day, and Lakeridge's Brian Hamlin greeted reliever Matt Kurtin with a run-scoring grounder that sent the game into the seventh inning tied at 4-4.
Wiancko's homer chased Santana from the game in the sixth, but Clayton was perfect the rest of the way, getting two straight outs to end the sixth and three straight in the seventh to set the table for the Pacers' final at-bat.
In the bottom of the seventh, West Linn reliever Matt Kurtin opened the inning with back-to-back walks to Colin Hardy and Hayden Moore. Then, with Bell on to throw for the Lions, Lakeridge's Casey Smith bunted both runners over and Clayton was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Taylor pushed the count to 3-2 against Bell, and with the West Linn outfield drawn in to try and cut off the winning run at the plate, Taylor lined a single over the outfield to plate Hardy with the game-winner.
"It got to 3-2 and I just knew he had to put one over or else it was game," Taylor said. "I was just sitting fastball down the middle and he gave me it. I saw it right to my barrel. That's what I've been working on — seeing it. It worked out well."
"This team always fights and we battle every game," Wiancko added. "We won the series, but it was unfortunate to lose like this."
For the game, Allen — one of several Pacers battling illness — went 2 for 3 at the plate with one RBI. For West Linn, no player had more than one hit. Santana threw 5 1/3 innings for Lakeridge, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and four walks while striking out two.