If the Lincoln Cardinals don't fare well in baseball this season, it probably won't be because the team doesn't score runs.
In their first four games, the Cardinals pounded the ball around to the tune of 70 runs, or 17.5 per game. That average helped them win their opening two Portland Interscholastic League games under first-year coach Paul Benzer.
'I've been pretty excited about the way the guys are approaching things at the plate,' says Benzer, who was an assistant at Wilsonville High last year. 'We've hit the ball in every game, throughout the lineup.'
Lincoln made up a 10-0 deficit against Madison on Tuesday with a 10-run fourth inning and won 21-16, then beat Benson 18-6 on Wednesday.
Through four games, junior Eric Beckman was 10-for-18 with nine RBIs, Jake Yeager was 9-for-19 with 10 RBIs and senior Alex Laing was 7-for-21. Joe Feldman was 5-for-16 and hit a 400-foot homer against Benson, and senior Tyler Colville, a standout quarterback and skier, had five hits in 21 at-bats as the No. 3 hitter.
'We have 16 guys on the roster who are all ready to learn and get better as players,' Benzer says. 'And they're smart. Our team GPA is 3.65.'
Righty Matt Berning, who is 6-7, is the team's ace, but 6-foot freshman Brock Schroeder is a prospect. He hadn't given up an earned run in six innings of relief work, including two innings of the Madison game.
Benzer, a coach for 25 years, is enthusiastic about the Lincoln program and has worked out an arrangement to play several home games at PGE Park. The Cardinals already have played there twice and, later this month, will play four games there in a week. Lincoln players work as cleanup crews at PGE events in exchange for using the field.
Benzer, who has been a coach long enough to have coached Seattle Mariners Manager Bob Melvin in American Legion, is hoping to play some summer games at PGE Park, too.
Elsewhere in the PIL, Wilson scored a big win Wednesday when it beat defending PIL champion Franklin 3-2, overcoming Quaker ace Jeff Pry in the process. Wilson outfielder Mike Beechler had a key play by throwing out a runner at the plate in the fourth inning to preserve a 3-1 lead.
Wilson, which beat Cleveland 8-1 on Tuesday, plays host to Grant in a key game today. The Trojans play Lincoln at Gabriel Park on Monday.
MORE BASEBALL: Centennial beat Parkrose 21-5 behind a standout game from senior shortstop John Matkin.
Matkin, who is 5-9, hit three homers and doubled, driving in seven runs.
'That gave him a slugging percentage of 3,500,' Eagles coach Brent Child points out. 'He had a game.'
The Eagles had 18 hits, but sophomore Tim Rodriguez didn't get one, ending his six-game hitting streak.
'This early in the season, there's a lot of teams still getting their rotations set, so that's probably some of the reason for a lot of high scores,' Child says. 'But, we've been pretty steady at outhitting teams. We've outhit all eight of our opponents.'
Centennial dropped a 6-5 decision to Gresham on Wednesday. Child pointed to the Eagles defense, not so much its offense, as a key reason the team wins or loses. When the Eagles commit three errors or less in a game, they're 4-0. When they make four or more, they're 0-4.
SOFTBALL: Franklin freshman Megan Selis hit a two-run double in the top of the seventh to give the Quakers a 2-0 victory over Wilson on Wednesday at Delta Park in the team's PIL opener.
Franklin got a one-hitter from senior Holly Marlow, the league's returning MVP, who also had nine strikeouts and no walks. In her three outings this season, Marlow has 33 strikeouts.
Senior catcher Jennifer Schmidt also returns to the Franklin lineup, which has won or shared the league title the last two seasons.
TENNIS: Jefferson isn't much into spring sports Ñ it isn't fielding varsity softball or baseball Ñ but the Demos do have girls tennis, and a fairly large team at that with 12 players.
The Demos even scored a victory against Wilson in their dual match Tuesday, which Wilson won 6-1. Sue Thurman, who coaches the team with Anita Morris, says the program is improved this season if only because the coaches power washed the second of the school's two courts and can use it to practice on.
Junior Mariam Galgalo, the team's No. 2 singles player, found a happy side to losing 6-0, 6-3 in No. 2 singles.
'I'm pretty happy I won three games,' she says. 'I played a pretty good player, so to win three games says I must be getting better.'