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Seventh-inning slam propels Lake Oswego

by: Vern Uyetake, Pitcher Jared Van Hoon had a solid afternoon against West Linn last Monday. He gave up four runs in seven innings and had four strike outs against the heavy-hitting Lions. He also picked up the win after his team rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh.

It may still be very early but these are the facts: The Lake Oswego baseball team is undefeated in league and alone in first place.

And it's unlikely that the Lakers could have scripted a better way to open their important three-game series with powerhouse West Linn than the way things played out on Monday.

Lake Oswego struggled at the plate for six innings, only mustering three hits in that time with just two runners reaching second base.

The Lions' Kyle Kraus was on his game, hitting his spots as Lake Oswego struggled to make solid contact. West Linn led 4-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning and it looked like the team was ready to start looking ahead to Wednesday's game.

'Kraus pitched well. We didn't hit the ball hard all game but our kids battled against him,' Anders said.

Nick Rulli led off with a single and Brian Zinsmeister followed to put runners on first and second base with no outs. That brought up Craig Mooney who lifted a fly ball to shallow left field.

The ball dropped between three defenders and, suddenly, the Lakers had the tying run at the plate.

And that tying run just happened to be Lake Oswego's most dangerous hitter in Michael Wesner. Wesner worked the count full and then drove a pitch deep over the right field fence to tie the game.

'That's about as exciting as baseball gets right there,' Lake Oswego coach Jake Anders said.

And the Lakers still weren't done. With one out, Jeff Cramer singled and moved to second base on Moto Asai's ground out.

Tom Slade, Lake Oswego's ninth batter in the inning, came to the plate and laced a single to right field.

The outfielder got to the ball quickly and Anders originally held Cramer but the throw was high and halfway up the third base line.

Cramer saw an opportunity and sprinted to the plate, beating a throw by a split-second for the winning run.

It also touched off a celebration at home plate as the team not only won in dramatic fashion but it beat West Linn's ace and earned some early momentum.

'It's definitely something we need to build on but we've got our backs against the wall again,' Anders said.

While Lake Oswego didn't do much offensively for six innings, the team was able to stay within striking distance thanks to some solid performances.

Pitcher Jared Van Hoon was effective, giving up just one run in the first five innings of play. That came on a two-out double in the top of the second inning.

The Lions put a runner in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings but Van Hoon worked out of the jam each time.

'In these games it just comes down to who makes the least number of mistakes,' Anders said.

In the top of the sixth, a pinch-hit single scored another run for West Linn but Van Hoon recorded a strike out to help control the damage before the Lions scored twice in the top of the seventh.

Lake Oswego managed to put runners on first and second base in the first two innings. Wesner and Cramer each drew walks in the first and, in the second inning, Rulli and Zinsmeister had back-to-back singles but the Lakers couldn't capitalize.

The Lions and Lakers squared off again on Wednesday and are slated to play the final game of the series on Friday.

'These two teams have built up a pretty big rivalry over the past few years,' Anders said.