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Pacers get first series victory

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lakeridge’s Robb Bliven slides safely into second base during last week’s 11-3 victory over Milwaukie. The win marked the Pacers’ first in league this year and they followed it up with an 11-1 win.

The Lakeridge baseball team picked up its first league victory last week and its first series win against Milwaukie. After dropping a tough opening game 5-4, which capped a string of heartbreaking decisions for the Pacers, the team rallied for an 11-3 victory last Thursday and followed with an 11-1 win over the Mustangs on Friday.

In the Thursday victory, Shiegeru Ikenaga got the start for the Pacers and endured a rocky beginning. Milwaukie scored three runs to take an early lead.

But Lakeridge responded impressively with a seven-run fourth inning to quickly take control of the game. Ikenaga was solid for the remainder of the contest, throwing a four-pitch inning to shut down Milwaukie after his team took the lead.

Eric Susi came on to pitch a scoreless sixth and seventh inning for the Pacers to preserve the victory.

'I think we came out with something to prove. The team hit well as a collective and played sound defense,' coach Colin Griffin said.

Lakeridge then rode that momentum into the next day's game and put together an even more lopsided victory.

This time Brady Burdick got the start and he threw a complete game for Lakeridge in his best game of the year.

Burdick kept the Mustangs off-balance all game long, striking out eight batters to earn the win.

'He kept the ball down and located three pitches. He did really well,' Griffin said.

And, for the second game in a row, the entire line-up hit the ball well. The Pacers' roster is so balanced this year that Griffin has had trouble settling on a consistent batting order.

'We don't have anyone who's head and shoulder above anyone else. I've flipped the line-up over a bunch of times already,' Griffin said.

The victories gave Lakeridge some momentum heading into a big series against Clackamas and bumped the Pacers into fifth place in the Three Rivers League.

In the first game against the Cavaliers, the Pacers ran into a solid pitcher and a determined team.

Lakeridge lost 17-1 but Griffin still found some things to be pleased with in the effort.

'The mistakes we made were aggressive mistakes. We were trying to make the big play,' Griffin said.

It will be an uphill battle for the Pacers to get back into playoff contention but the team enjoys the challenge.

'Four of the teams in our league are predicted as being in the top 15 in Oregon. It's a dogfight every game,' Griffin said.

And the team will look to climb up the standings one series at a time.

'The most important thing is getting that confidence and showing up at games wanting to win and not waiting for a team to beat us,' Griffin said.