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The Lions dominate from start to finish and win their first state crown in 40 years.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn junior pitcher Drew Talavs lifts the Class 6A state championship trophy into the air after the Lions beat Canby 14-0 at Volcanoes Stadium on Tuesday, June 7."W."

It's a letter that stands for "waiting."

It stands for "wild."

It stands for "West" Linn.

And finally, for the Lions baseball team, it stands for "winning."

West Linn — after seeing its Class 6A state championship game rained out three days earlier — stepped up to beat Canby 14-0 in five innings and win the 6A crown — the team's first title since 1982 — on Tuesday, June 7, at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.

The Lions broke through for five runs in the bottom of the first inning, added three runs in the third and six more in the fourth to win the shortest big-school state championship in Oregon history. The previous shortest big-school title contest came when West Linn beat Newberg 10-0 in six innings back in '82.

"It's very exciting. It's definitely the best day of high school so far," said West Linn junior pitcher Drew Talavs, the Lions' Player of the Game after pitching five innings and allowing no runs on two hits and no walks along with 12 strikeouts. "I'm really glad I made it this far. It was a really fun game."

"I had so much confidence because I knew this team … was something special," said junior first baseman Jake Holmes, who went 1 for 2 at the plate with two RBIs and one run scored. "All of us pick each other up. It really helps all of us build confidence and I think that was really key in our win."

"It's surreal. This moment is crazy, winning it with all my teammates," said senior second baseman Jeremy Levasseur, who went 1 for 3 and scored twice. "We've been going through this since early last summer so doing it with these boys is crazy."

"We knew coming out of the gate tonight that we had to hit them hard early so that's what we did," added junior third baseman Maxwell Wright, who went 2 for 3 at the plate with three RBIs and three runs. "I knew what we were going to see from the start and we capitalized on it."

With the win, the {obj:63270:team's eighth straight}, the fourth-seeded Lions finished 25-7 overall after placing second in the Three Rivers League. No. 14 Canby, meanwhile, saw its Cinderella season come to an end Tuesday, with its eight-game winning streak snapped and finishing 19-13 overall after placing third in the TRL.



Talavs got his team's day started by throwing a 1-2-3 inning at Canby in the top of the first, and his teammates rewarded him by pouring across five runs in the bottom half of the frame. Junior Drake Gabel was hit by a pitch from Canby senior starter Joe Brauckmiller (he threw 2.2 innings and allowed eight runs — three earned — on five hits and one walk while striking out two) to open the game and Levasseur joined him on base after a bunt that led to a Brauckmiller throwing error.

Sophomore Ryan Vandenbrink loaded the bases with an infield single, and after the Cougars got the first out at home, senior Spencer Sullivan's grounder to short led to a two-run error by senior Kellan Oakes. Wright then followed with a two-run double to right field and Holmes added an RBI grounder for their team's 5-0 lead.

"That was awesome to come out big (in the first inning) like that," Holmes said. "Obviously, that was another key to the win."

"It's all about the first couple guys getting on base and then we've got some real sluggers lower in our lineup that can drive us in," Levasseur said. "Our team is so stacked, top to bottom (and our) bench players."

"Once we started rolling, hitting the ball, getting those runs across the plate, things just fell into line," Wright said.

After a scoreless second inning — Canby got a leadoff single from senior Clayton Langdale but nothing more — and a 1-2-3 third by Talavs, the Lions pushed across three more runs in their third at-bat to extend their lead to 8-0. Wright reached base when he was hit by a pitch with two outs, took second on a wild pitch and scored when Holmes flared a single to right field. Sophomore Gabe Howard followed with a walk and senior Barret Brundage tripled over the Canby right fielder's head to plate two more runs for that eight-run lead.

Canby's best chance to score came in the top of the fourth when senior Bryce Oliver and Oakes both singled, but Talavs ended the threat when he struck out junior Logan Robinson looking.

"We got hot early and it made me very comfortable on the mound," Talavs said. "I felt good. I felt like I could find the zone easily. My slider felt good. I just felt comfortable on the mound after scoring those runs in the first inning. I felt comfortable throughout the whole game."

The Lions' offense followed with its biggest outburst of the game, pouring in another six runs to boost their lead to a daunting 14-0. Now working against senior reliever Jason Noffsinger, Levasseur led off with a single to center, moved up on a wild pitch and scored when Sullivan hit a two-out, opposite field double to left.

Wright singled to center next to make it 10-0, and the Lions then loaded the bases when Holmes walked and senior pinch hitter Jordy Tawa was hit by a pitch. After that, senior pinch hitter Henry Popma came off the bench and hit a bases-clearing three-run double to left field. Junior pinch hitter Jackson Curdy then capped his team's offensive outburst with an RBI double to center field that pushed his team's lead to 14-0.

Talavs finished strong in the top of the fifth, striking out the final three Canby batters in order to end the game and wrap up his team's first championship in 40 years.

"We came here a couple weeks ago, just before the playoffs started, and we sat in the dugout and talked with our coach," Talavs said. "I think that's when we flipped the switch. We were just fighting hard every game."

"Once we started rolling, started trusting each other, we hit the ball all over the field and stuff started falling for us," Wright said. "We trust each other a lot. The chemistry on this team is just second to none."

"We believed since the beginning," Levasseur added. "We have such a great team. I'm really happy to be going out like this."

For the game, Brundage went 1 for 2 with two RBIs, while Popma was 1 for 1 with three RBIs. For Canby, Oliver and Oakes had the Cougars' only two hits.


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