Lakers win first-round series 2-0 to set up second-round showdown with Southridge
Lake Oswego's Northwest Realty Group legion team seems to be playing its best baseball of the summer and the timing couldn't be much better.
Playing during a sweltering heat wave throughout last weekend, Lake Oswego steam-rolled a young Glencoe team, winning the first-round metro playoff series two games to none. Lake Oswego won Saturday's game 1 in a 14-4 blowout that featured 20 base hits by the Lakers. In Sunday's game 2, Lake Oswego focused more on defense en route to a 6-1 victory.
That set up a best-of-three second-round showdown with Southridge. Results from that series, which begin on Wednesday, were unavailable by press time. If the Lakers should win that series, they would then have to win a single game against one of the remaining semifinalists in order to advance to the state tournament.
The Lakers looked like a state tournament team the way they played against Glencoe. The Crimson Tide, whose roster is made up almost solely of sophomores and juniors-to-be, were overmatched by the Lakers, especially in the first game.
In that first contest, Glencoe fans complained bitterly about what they believed were some questionable calls by the umpires against their team. At the very least, it was certainly unusual to see Glencoe's top two coaches ejected from the game for arguing calls by the umpires.
Quite frankly, it would have taken a lot more than a few breaks from the umpires to help Glencoe overcome Lake Oswego's 20-hit, 14-run attack. Virtually everyone on Lake Oswego's roster hit the ball with authority and most of them did it multiple times.
'The game was kind of a fiasco with everybody getting thrown out,' Lake Oswego coach Jake Anders noted. '(But the Lakers) didn't let any of that stuff affect what they were doing. They were very much in the game … When you put up 20 hits, you're going to win games.'
It wasn't just the Lake Oswego offense that gave the Crimson Tide problems. They also had their hands full with Lakers pitcher Bennett Frazier, who earlier in the week had stifled a hard-hitting Canby team in the league championship game. Frazier set the tone early by setting down Glencoe's first three hitters in order to start Saturday's game.
Then, the Lake Oswego offense got its turn and the fireworks started almost immediately. Matt Stutes started things off with a double into the left-center field gap. Moments later, Alex Freeman drilled a double into the right-center field gap, which scored Stutes with the game's first run.
After another easy inning for Frazier, the Lakers struck again in the bottom of the second. This time it was Jared Van Hoon (who had singled two batters earlier) scoring on a single by Stutes.
The Lakers made it 3-0 in the third when Freeman doubled and scored later on a long single by Steve Smith.
The Lakers doubled their run total in the fourth and they did it mainly by playing small ball, along with a little charity from Glencoe. In that frame, Lake Oswego had three singles, three walks and benefitted from a fielding error. That led to runs by Mike Wesner, Moto Asai and Stutes. The inning also included the ejection of Glencoe's assistant coach for arguing a balk call.
By the time Freeman belted a two-run double off of the left field fence, scoring Wesner and Asai ahead of him, the game was all but decided with Lake Oswego leading 8-0.
The Lakers tagged on another run in the six on an RBI double by Wesner, but the Crimson Tide responded with four runs of their own in the top of the seventh to make the game a little more interesting. But any thoughts of an amazing Glencoe comeback ended in the bottom of the seventh when the Lake Oswego fireworks resumed.
Asai, who was batting ninth in the Lakers' order, started the inning with a solo homer to left. Moments later, Stutes belted a solo shot to right. A short time later, Duncan White doubled home two runs and Wesner plated White with a double to make it 14-4.
That's also where the game ended because of the 10-run mercy rule being used in the legion playoffs, where games normally go nine innings.
Frazier, who ended up throwing a seven-inning complete game, turned in a solid performance. His only difficult inning was the seventh, when Glencoe picked up four of the seven hits that Frazier yielded.
One day later, Lake Oswego got an even better performance on the mound on the hottest day of the year. In that game, Van Hoon went the distance, all nine innings, while holding Glencoe to just four hits.
'Since it's hot out … I just tried to throw strikes and use my defense,' Van Hoon said after the game.
For the day, Van Hoon had five three-up, three-down innings. When the Crimson Tide did get a runner on, he usually wound up being stranded on first.
'The story of this game, obviously, was Jared Van Hoon,' Anders said. 'That was a heck of a performance.'
Van Hoon's only trouble came when Glencoe started the seventh with three consecutive singles. The Lake Oswego pitcher then got out of trouble with a double-play ground ball, even though it scored Glencoe's only run of the game.
'They just found the gaps, I guess,' Van Hoon said of the three singles that started the seventh. 'But I didn't let it affect me.'
With the temperature so hot that day, Anders opted not to let Van Hoon bat and instead used a designated hitter to give his pitcher a break. So, Van Hoon only had to worry about his stints on the mound, where he seemed to be almost unaffected by the heat.
'I had cold towels in the dugout, so it didn't really affect me that much,' Van Hoon said of the 100-plus degree heat. 'One the mound it wasn't that bad. But I just wanted to get to the dugout as fast as I could so I could cool off.'
No wonder he made such efficient use of his pitches.
Van Hoon got all of the run support he needed when the Lakers scored twice in the first inning. Stutes scored the first run on an RBI single by Cooper Mandelblatt and then Mandelblatt was forced home a short time later when Wesner was hit by a pitch.
That's the way it stayed until the fourth when Frazier singled home Cam Yates to make it 3-0. In the sixth, a two-run single by Mandelblatt, which scored Yates and Stutes, gave Lake Oswego a 5-0 lead. The Lakers finished their scoring in the seventh when Smith scored on a balk.
By the end of the day, it was hard to determine whether the biggest victory was against the heat or the Lakers' opponent.
'It's draining to be out in (the heat) for three hours,' Anders said. 'The biggest thing is just trying to get everybody to concentrate through the whole game. I think they did a pretty good job today.'