Jesuit baseball edges past West Linn 8-6
There's nothing better.
The field was perfect, the sun was shining and there was baseball to be played.
So that's just what the West Linn and Jesuit baseball teams did on Friday, May 7, battling back and forth at West Linn High School until the Crusaders walked off with an 8-6 victory.
"It was a big win. Everyone contributed," said Jesuit sophomore shortstop Ryan Cooney, who went 1 for 2 at the plate, scored once played error-free on defense. "They're a great program — they put us on our on our heels — but we came through and that's what we're like as a team."
"I think that just got a lot of it started," junior Jackson Bui said of his fourth-inning home run. "And then we put the work in the rest of the game."
Along with a 10-0 loss to McMinnville on Saturday, May 8, the Crusaders moved to 10-3 overall for the spring season (they're also 8-2 in Metro League play). The Lions, meanwhile, saw their two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-7 overall (they're also 5-5 in Three Rivers League play).
"I think our defense could have been better tonight," said West Linn senior shortstop Caden Parker, who went 1 for 3 at the plate with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. "I'm bitter — I'm not going to lie. We got the bats going and then the defense crumbled. You hate to see that."
"Normally, we have a great, solid defense," said sophomore Jake Holmes, who went 1 for 4 with a homer, three RBIs and one run scored. "But we made a couple of mistakes and that's what hurt us."
West Linn held the upper hand early on, responding to Jesuit's single runs in the first and second innings with two runs of its own in each frame to take a 4-2 lead. In the first, the Crusaders got a run-scoring double from Sean Murphy, but saw the Lions answer with one run on a fielder's choice and another on Parker Stevenson's double off the center field fence.
In the second inning, Jesuit tied the game 2-2 on Brody Marler's bloop single to right field, before West Linn pushed ahead 4-2 when Kace Naone walked and Parker followed with a two-run homer to left field.
The third and fourth innings, however, belonged to Jesuit. While West Linn went scoreless in each of its next two at bats, the Crusaders pushed across three runs in the third and three more in the fourth to take control at 8-2.
In the third, Murphy singled, Bui reached base on a fielder's choice and Ryan Hart singled up the middle to drive in two runs. Jesuit's third run of the inning scored after a pair of wild pitches and a West Linn error.
In the Crusaders' fourth, Mason Masterson knocked in one run with a two-out single to center and Bui followed with his two-run shot over the left field fence to extend the Jesuit lead to 8-4.
While West Linn failed to score in its half of the inning, relief pitcher Gavin Turner — he took over from starter Gabe Howard in the fourth — kept the Crusaders off the scoreboard in the fifth and sixth innings and gave the Lions' offense a chance to reignite.
In the fifth, the Lions did just that, getting a two-out double off the left field fence by Clay Masters and a two-run opposite-field homer to right by Holmes to cut West Linn's deficit to 8-6.
"I was just going up trying to do my best to get us back in the game," Holmes said. "I saw a pitch I liked and took it to the opposite field."
Though the Lions didn't score again, it wasn't for lack of trying. In the sixth, West Linn got Naone and Kade Kadel aboard with one out, then loaded the bases when Zac Hoover singled to center.
But Jesuit — which started Carson Gantz on the mound, then went to Ansel Balmer in the fourth — called on Levi Jones to close things out and he did. Jones got a strikeout and a fly out to end the sixth, then set down three straight West Linn batters in the seventh to end the game.
"We pride ourselves on our defense — getting those outs is crucial to the wins," Cooney said. "We do our part on the offensive side, but if we get the outs, we can keep in there all game."
"We came into this game super excited, because obviously, they're a solid team," Holmes said. "We didn't get off to the best start, but we thought that today was our chance to prove ourselves and prove that we were a lot better than we looked in the first half of the season. Even though we didn't get the result we wanted, I still think we ... made a statement."
For the game, Murphy went 2 for 4 with one RBI, while Marler and Hart knocked in two runs each. Balmer picked up the win in relief, throwing 1 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and no walks.
For West Linn, six different players had one hit each, with Holmes picking up three RBIs and Parker two.
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