PREPS: Nolan Ostmo returns, and Lincoln Cardinals rout West Salem
HILLSBORO — The return of shortstop Nolan Ostmo gave the Lincoln High baseball team a lift as the 12th-seeded Cardinals opened the postseason with a 10-0 win over No. 21 seed West Salem on Monday at Ron Tonkin Field.
Lincoln will play host to Lake Oswego on Wednesday at Ron Tonkin Field in the second round of the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A tournament.
One of nine Lincoln seniors motivated for a long playoff run, Ostmo had missed the last 12 games with a back injury and had swung a bat maybe 10 times in the last three weeks. But he showed no rust.
Ostmo went 3 for 3, scored three runs and knocked in one. Ostmo's speed provided an early spark for the Cardinals offense in the third inning. He beat out a chopper to shortstop, stole second and scored the first run on a two-out single by Gabe Skoro.
"When I beat it out, that was an uplifting moment for me," Ostmo said. "I was hoping to do whatever I could to help my team. I put the ball in play, and I'm really happy I helped out the team."
Coach C.J. Watson — who a couple of weeks ago made the decision to shut down Ostmo until the playoffs — put Ostmo ninth in the batting order to limit the pressure on him. His production helped the bottom four hitters in the Cardinals order score nine runs.
"He's been such an awesome teammate throughout his injury. Getting him back was such a spark plug for not only the team but for myself. Seeing him out here made me really happy," Watson said.
Myles Parkel went 2 for 2, scored twice and had an RBI. Zach Ross and Bennett Sacker each reached twice on free passes and scored each time.
The Cardinals broke open the game by scoring five runs on five singles and two walks in the fourth inning.
They added four runs on three hits, two walks and two hit batsmen in the fifth.
Baxter Halligan pitched 5 2/3 innings for the win. The senior lefty struck out six and scattered three hits.
With the game scoreless in the top of the third, West Salem loaded the bases on two singles and a throwing error.
Halligan struck out Anthony Zellner, the Titans' No. 3 hitter, and got a fly out from cleanup hitter Ross McConnell to end the threat.
"All I was trying to do today was throw strikes and let my defense work," Halligan said. "My defense made every play I could get them. That's all I was trying to do was let them work."
With the bat, Halligan went 2 for 3 with an RBI and scored one run. Skoro had three RBIs, and Brandon Leitgeb had an RBI single.
The Portland Interscholastic League co-champions improved to 19-9.
Next up is a 28th-seeded Lake Oswego team (12-16) that upset No. 5 Sprague 5-2 in Salem on Monday.
Lincoln has lost in the round of 16 the last two seasons — including 3-0 to West Salem a year ago. The Titans also bounced the Cards out of the first round in 2013.
"So we're already really excited for Wednesday," Watson said. "We've played in a lot of close playoff baseball games, so today was refreshing."