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Lions complete the series sweep with a 3-2 victory on Friday

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - West Linn shortstop Jonathon Kelly takes a throw during his team's 3-2 win over Tualatin.A big game.

A big series.

Some big performances.

And, for the West Linn High School baseball team, it was a big win.

The Lions completed a showdown series sweep and strengthened their grip on first place in the Three Rivers League standings by rallying for a 3-2 win over Tualatin in a back-and-forth battle played Friday at Tualatin High School.

"This was a really big win," said West Linn junior second baseman James Marshall, who drove in the Lions' first run of the game. "We had to grind this."

"This is really, really big," said West Linn senior pitcher Rance Pittman, who pitched two perfect innings in relief to get the save. "Getting the sweep was great. It definitely helps in the standings."

With the victory, West Linn improved to 10-1 in TRL games (16-4 overall), keeping the Lions alone in first place in the league standings. Tualatin moved to 7-4 in TRL play (8-9-2 overall) with the loss, putting the Wolves in a tie with Tigard for third in the league standings.

"We played hard," said Tualatin junior Kaden Cook, who turned in a complete-game pitching performance in Friday's game. "We didn't execute on some plays, but games like this will help us."

"Honestly, I thought we had them," said Tualatin freshman Blake Jackson, who drove in both Timberwolf runs. "Kaden pitched an amazing game, but we had one mistake. Hopefully, we'll see them again and we'll beat them."

Tualatin got off to a fast start in Friday's game, getting a run in the bottom of the first inning to take a quick lead. Junior Colby Jackson and junior Chris Freese opened with back-to-back singles to right, and sophomore Kyle Dernedde followed that with an infield single to load the bases with no outs. One out later, Blake Jackson drove in Colby Jackson with a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.

West Linn answered back with a run in the top of the second inning, with junior Garrett Marioni getting hit by a pitch, taking second base on a sacrifice bunt by junior Micah Gibson and third on a groundout by sophomore Jonathon Kelly. Then, after senior Ryan Driscoll drew a walk, Marshall singled to right field, driving in Marioni to tie the game at 1-1.

Tualatin regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the third, with Colby Jackson leading off with a single to right, Dernedde singling to left and, following a strikeout, Blake Jackson singling to center to give Tualatin a 2-1 advantage.

"I was just trying to provide for my team," Blake Jackson said. "And I had to drive in my brother."

Again, West Linn answered back, scoring a tying run in the top of the fourth inning.

Marioni was again hit by a pitch while leading off the inning, took second on a bunt by Gibson and then moved to third on a groundout by Kelly. Driscoll then singled to right field, driving in Marioni to tie the game at 2-2.

The Lions then added another run in the top of the fifth inning to take their first lead of the game. West Linn senior Chase Cosner got things started with a one-out bloop single to left field, then moved all the way to third base on a hit-and-run infield single by senior Jake Porter.

One out later, Cosner would score from third on a Tualatin error, in a rundown on the front end of a delayed double steal that gave the Lions a 3-2 lead.

Tualatin tried to answer back in the bottom of the frame, getting a one-out single by Blake Jackson, but the Wolves couldn't capitalize on that opportunity.

The Lions then turned to their defense to put the game away.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Pittman snagged a sizzling line drive off the bat of Colby Jackson for the third out of the frame. Then, in the seventh, West Linn senior Tim Tawa made a play deep in the hole at shortstop and threw a laser to first to nip Freese for the first out of the inning. Marshall, at second, followed that up with a running scoop and throw of a grounder hit by Dernedde for the second out. A fly ball out to right field then ended the contest.

"That was a fun game," Marshall said. "It was a great test for us."

Tawa picked up the win for the Lions, pitching the first five innings and allowing two runs on nine hits while striking out seven and walking none.

"We put all our trust in Tim," Marshall said. "He's our guy."

Pittman, pitching the final two frames, retired all six Tualatin batters he faced.

"This is my first year as a closer," he said. "I just went out there and tried to throw strikes."

Marshall had two of the Lions' four hits in the game.

For Tualatin, Cook threw a complete game, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits, while striking out three and walking two.

"Kaden was an animal," Blake Jackson said. "We depend on him."

"I felt good," Cook said. "The team was fantastic on defense, and (junior catcher) Cole Kinman was great behind the plate."

For the Timberwolf offense, Blake Jackson went 2 for 2 at the plate, with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs. Colby Jackson went 2 for 3 with two runs scored. Dernedde went 2 for 4. Freese, junior Danny Shell and senior Elijah Diggins added one run apiece.{img:152977}

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