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The Lions rebound from a low point to win their first state championship in 40 years.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn bounced back from a three-game series sweep by Lakeridge late in the season to win its first state title in 40 years.The West Linn baseball reached the heights of Oregon high school baseball on Tuesday, June 7.

That was the day that the Lions beat Canby 14-0 to win their school's first state championship in 40 years.

But just 25 days earlier, West Linn had arguably hit its low point.

That day — Friday, May 13 — marked West Linn's third straight loss to Three Rivers League rival Lakeridge and the end of its hopes of winning the 2022 TRL title.

While the Lions undoubtedly mourned those losses to the top-ranked Pacers — 4-0 on May 10, 7-5 on May 11 and 5-3 on May 13 — they used them as fuel for the hot streak that followed and helped carry them to the Class 6A state championship.

Indeed, over the season's final three weeks, West Linn righted itself and strung together eight straight wins — five of those in the state playoffs — and closed the year with a 25-7 overall record and a state title after placing second in the Three Rivers League.

At the end of their championship win over Canby, the Lions said that they had used the Lakeridge sweep to motivate their efforts down the stretch.

"(Being swept by Lakeridge), that fueled us actually; that was one of our main drives get here," said West Linn senior second baseman Jeremy Levasseur, who went 1 for 3 at the plate and scored twice in the championship. "We knew we had to keep winning, keep going. Everything's for the team. Those losses (to Lakeridge) don't matter anymore. This is what matters now."

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn senior Kace Naone and the Lions strung together eight straight wins at the end of the 2022 season, including a victory over Canby in the Class 6A state championship.

"After that Lakeridge series, getting swept, that really helped us," said junior first baseman Jake Holmes, who went 1 for 2 with two RBIs and one run against Canby. "Our bats came alive, and everyone came together and we said 'All right. Either we do this, or we don't,' and the bats got hot and we started playing well and look where we're at now."

"After that series against Lakeridge — not how we planned it — but we knew coming out of the gate tonight that we had to hit them hard early so that's what we did," added Lions' junior third baseman Maxwell Wright, who went 2 for 2 in the finale, along with three RBIs and three runs. "I knew what we were going to see from the start, and we capitalized on it."

Down the stretch in 2022, the Lions stepped up to sweep Tigard in their final TRL series, then took off on an unstoppable five-game march through the 6A state playoffs. First, West Linn raced past No. 29 Glencoe by an 8-3 margin. Next, the Lions shut out No. 13 Sprague 4-0 in the second round. After that came back-to-back 5-4 victories, first edging No. 21 Sheldon in the quarterfinals, then upsetting — coincidentally — top-ranked Lakeridge 5-4 in the semifinals. And finally, West Linn closed out its historic 2022 campaign by routing Canby 14-0 in the championship.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn junior third baseman Maxwell Wright and his teammates played their best baseball at the end of the 2022 season.

"After we lost those three games to Lakeridge, we brought them down here (to Volcanoes Stadium) and sat in this exact dugout and I wanted them to think about what they truly wanted out of the baseball season," said West Linn coach Joe Monahan. "We were fortunate to be in a situation where we had time to make the adjustments for the very last part of the season and we did. The kids bought in and put the work in. They found their reason to never take a rep off in practice and it paid off in the games."

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