The Lakeridge baseball team started the regular season on a very positive note, riding a terrific pitching performance from Ryan Russell to top Canby 3-1.
Russell pitched his second straight complete game to keep the Cougars off balance and the team used solid defense and timely hitting to grind out a hard-fought victory.
Russell got into a slight jam in the first inning as Canby threatened to take an early lead but he worked through the heart of the Cougars' order and recorded a strikeout with two runners in scoring position to keep them off the board.
In the bottom of the first, Tyler Borgeson led off with a single and was later knocked on a base hit by Logan Henry who came through after failing to get a sacrifice bunt down.
Borgeson would score another run later in what would become a pitchers' duel.
Russell was terrific after settling into a groove and pitched well in a game where there was little margin for error.
"Once he established his second pitch and got some confidence in it he really settled in," coach Colin Griffin said.
Lakeridge had a 2-1 lead through five innings and it remained to be seen if that would hold up. In the last game Russell pitched, he went the distance against a very good Sunset team but was saddled with the loss.
The Pacers picked up insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Spencer Pearl belted a double and Lakeridge was able to play small ball to bring the run home, giving the team a small cushion.
"I told the guys, my favorite wins are ones where we have pinch hitters and pinch runners and where everyone's contributing," Griffin said.
After struggling to get on the field early in the season due to the poor weather, Lakeridge has improved immensely in the past few weeks and is playing very well as league play starts.
"Defensively we've been getting better and better. We juggled our line-up a bit but now we have some consistency," Griffin said.
The Pacers have been receiving strong pitching from Russell and Tyler Binns while Cam Wood is still dealing with an injury.
Lakeridge will close out the series with Canby this week and will take on West Linn in a series beginning next Monday.