West Linn OIBA team falls in second round of National Tournament
The West Linn baseball team accomplished a lot this summer.
The young Lions won the Oregon Independent Baseball Association's Pesky Division, earned a first-round bye in the National League tournament and rolled into the postseason on the heels of a win over defending Class 6A state champion Jesuit.
But the Lions — their OIBA team featured just a handful of players who saw significant varsity time in the spring — saw their summer season come to a crashing halt on Friday, July 26, with West Linn dropping a 10-1 decision to Lake Oswego in the National League tournament at Tualatin High School.
"It didn't turn out the way we wanted, but we'll learn from it and be better next spring," said West Linn shortstop Adam Simshauser, who went 1 for 4 at the plate against Lake Oswego. "We definitely could have scored a lot more than we did today. That's unfortunate."
As painful as Friday's loss was — Lake Oswego used a three-run second inning and a four-run sixth to pull away — the Lions left more focused on their improvement and increased camaraderie over the course of the summer season.
"Throughout the summer, we've all learned from our mistakes and created a bond that has been really great," said West Linn center fielder Zac Hoover, who went 2 for 2 at the plate and also made five putouts against Lake Oswego.
"I think we got a lot closer as teammates, which was very important, and by the end of the summer, we were playing for each other instead of just for ourselves," Simshauser added.
That said, West Linn just didn't have it in their tournament opener, played in Friday's steamy 90-degree temperatures. After a scoreless first inning, Lake Oswego broke through for three runs against West Linn starter Brandon Alexander in the top of the second. After Alexander got the first out of the frame, Lake Oswego strung together four straight hits, getting a single to right by Jacob Matlock, a single up the middle by Jack Layne, a bloop single to center from Chris Hofmann and Graver's two-run hit to center.
Then, with two outs, pinch runner Luke Brauner scored on a wild pitch to give his team a 3-0 lead.
The Lakers added another run in the top of the fourth — getting a Hofmann single and a Graver double to left that plated Brauner — for a 4-0 edge before West Linn broke through in the bottom half of the inning against Hofmann. There, Simshauser led off with a single, stole second and scored on Darren Wiancko's infield hit to close within 4-1.
After a scoreless fifth, however, Lake Oswego broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning. Layne led off with a single to left, Hofmann reached base on an error and Graver followed with a run-scoring single up the middle.
LO's Brad Holmes was hit by a pitch next, and after Alexander got the first out, Andrew Wong bunted a run home to make it 6-1. And finally, with two outs, Blaise Heher knocked in two more runs with a single to left field.
Lake Oswego then put the game on ice with two more runs in the top of the seventh, getting an RBI single by Charlie Owens off West Linn reliever Zach Johnson and a run-scoring groundout by Wong.
Besides their team's lone run, the Lions stranded five other baserunners — one in the second (a bunt single by Hoover), another in the fifth (a single to center by Johnson, two in the sixth (a walk by Parker Stevenson and an infield single by Hoover) and one more in the seventh (a single by Jeremy Levasseur).
"Personally, I hit some balls hard, but right to people," Simshauser said. "But we'll just continue to get stronger and quicker and faster and be able to turn some of these outs from today into hits."
"A lot of people are going to think that we're going to be the underdogs (next spring), but I think we're going to be really strong next year and we are definitely going to put up a fight," Hoover added.
For the game, Alexander threw six innings, allowing eight runs on 10 hits, one walk and one hit batter while striking out three.
For Lake Oswego, Hofmann threw all seven innings, allowing one run on six hits, two walks and no strikeouts. Graver went 4 for 4 with four RBIs and one run scored, Hofmann went 3 for 4, Layne was 2 for 3 with two runs, and Wong drove in two.
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