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Pacer baseball should contend in tough TRL

by: VERN UYETAKE Clockwise from back left: Drew Northfield, Ryan Russell, Tyler Binns, Logan Henry, Cameron Wood and Tyler Smith hope to guide Lakeridge through a tough schedule and into contention for a league title this year.

The Lakeridge baseball program continues to improve under coach Colin Griffin. The Pacers have the potential to field the most talented team in Griffin's four years with the program. The only problem is, as the Pacers improve, so does the rest of the league it seems.

Lakeridge is experienced and talented and also has plenty of depth as Griffin says this year's JV team is the best he's had.

"It's different this year with the RPI system. In the past I've tried to play as many guys as possible but this year I'm only carrying 13 guys on varsity. Every game is so important and I don't want four or five guys who are just going to sit on the bench," Griffin said.

The Pacers will enter the season with three experienced pitchers.

Tyler Binns, Ryan Russell and Cam Wood all have thrown a number of varsity innings and a big key this season will be how consistent they can be.

"Those guys are anxious to prove themselves. We have about six or eight arms that I have a lot of confidence in," Griffin said.

Lakeridge graduated three everyday players from its line-up last year that accounted for 11 home runs and roughly 50 RBIs but the Pacers have filled those holes and should boast a very formidable offense this year.

"I'm looking forward to watching our guys hit this year. They've hit the weight room and really worked hard on their approach at the plate," Griffin said.

At catcher this year will be Spencer Pearl, who transferred over from Lake Oswego.

First base will be occupied by Ryan Russell and Tyler Smith, who will also pitch some for the Pacers this year.

At second base will be Tyler Kain and Connor Griffin.

Lakeridge is returning its left side of the infield with Matt Reyer moving over from third base to shortstop.

"He's been one of our most consistent fielders. We're athletic enough that we can move guys around and get them out of their comfort zone a little," Griffin said.

Logan Henry will also see some time at shortstop but will primarily play third base along with Binns.

Lakeridge is also very strong in the outfield where it will play Binns, Nick Sota, Tyler Borgeson and Drew Northfield.

"We have five guys returning who were all-league last year and three guys who have three years of varsity experience which is really nice," Griffin said.

The offense should be a strength for the team this year as well as its defense.

Lakeridge is scheduled to play 10 non-league games this year as it prepares for a very difficult league slate.

Lake Oswego and West Linn might be the early favorites but the Pacers expect to be extremely competitive.

"What a league this year. All of the coaches know each other so well right now. It's going to be a fun season," Griffin said.

Lakeridge hopes to continue making steps forward this season and expects to be a major factor in the league down the stretch.

"Our kids know what it feels like to win and what to do late in games," Griffin said.