Tim Tawa's pitching sets the pace in top-ranked Lions' victory

TIDINGS PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn's Tim Tawa delivers a pitch during his team's 10-1 win over McNary in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs on Wednesday at West Linn High School.The West Linn baseball team got a minor scare in its Monday playoff opener.

On Wednesday, the Lions played well enough to score the rest of the state.

Hosting No. 16 McNary in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs, top-ranked West Linn got a shutdown pitching performance from starter Tim Tawa, banged out 12 hits (seven for extra bases) and dusted the Celtics 10-1 at West Linn High School.

"I think people thought it would be a closer game," said senior center fielder Chase Cosner, who went 2 for 3 at the plate with a single, a triple and two runs scored. "But I thought we came out and swung it. I think people are going to be surprised down the road when they find out we can swing it consistently."

"We had Tim come out and shut them down ... and our bats came out and did what they needed to do," added sophomore shortstop Jonathan Kelly, who went 2 for 4 at the plate with a triple, a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored. "You can't take any team lightly. We had to come out and play our baseball."

Tawa, meanwhile, was nearly untouchable on the mound, throwing six innings and allowing one unearned run on three hits and one walk while striking out nine.

"I felt good," Tawa said. "I hadn't thrown in a week and a half since my last start so my arm was feeling really fresh and ready to go and it turned out well."

With the win — West Linn's 19th straight — the Three Rivers League champion Lions' season record improved to 25-4 and sent the team on to face eighth-ranked Gresham. The Gophers, the Mt. Hood Conference runners-up, carry a 23-6 overall record after beating Sherwood and Centennial in their two playoff games. McNary saw its season end at 14-13.

"We're feeling good about Friday," Cosner said. "We've already played Gresham once, we know what they've got so I think it will be a good game."

Tawa was perfect through the game's first three innings, striking out the side in the top of the first inning and punching out two more in a 1-2-3 second. The Lions came through with their first run in the bottom of the frame, with Kelly leading off with a triple to right-center and scoring on James Marshall's infield single to make it 1-0.

There was more of the same in the third when Cosner led off with a triple, then scored to make it 2-0 when McNary starter Riley Hays balked with two outs.

The Celtics broke through for their first run in the top of the fourth when Jonah Geist led off with an infield single, took second on Brendan Frizelle's bunt, moved to third on a ground ball and scored on Tyler Covalt's sacrifice fly to right.

The Lions then iced the game in their next three at-bats, pushing across eight runs to leave McNary behind. In West Linn's four-run fourth, Jake Porter and Micah Gibson both drove in runs with singles, and two more came home when McNary made an error on Garrett Marioni's grounder.

In the fifth, Drew Vannaman tripled and scored to make it 7-1, and the Lions tacked on three more in the sixth when Kelly homered to left off reliever Carl Rumbaugh.

"It was the first strike I saw, it was low and inside and I just poked it over the fence," Kelly said. "I got a good piece of it, it felt good off the bat and as I started to get around first … I saw it was over."

"I knew we were going to break out. It was just about what inning it was going to happen," Tawa added. "I thought the bats were better today. We still need more hitting from the team, but overall, I think we came to play in most areas."

Porter went 2 for 4 with one RBI and one run scored, Gibson was 2 for 4, and Vannaman 2 for 3 with two runs scored.

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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