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Pioneers drop three to West Linn

The Lions rally around their bats to sweep the series

Last week was a reality check for Oregon City High School's baseball team.

The Pioneers entered the week atop the Three Rivers League, with a 7-1 record.

But they got swept by West Linn (21-5, 8-6 and 6-2) in last week's three-game series, and they finished the week in fourth place, trailing Lake Oswego (6-2), West Linn (6-2) and Clackamas (8-3).

'This league is shaping up the way I thought it would be,' said West Linn baseball coach Mike Lord. 'There are four teams that can beat anybody on a given night….

'Our second game with Oregon City reflected how tough this league is. We trailed 5-3 heading into the seventh inning.'

'West Linn is a very, very good team,' said Oregon City coach J.J. Winkle. 'They've got some kids in the top of their lineup who can hit as good as anybody in the state.'

Lord's Lions took advantage of two costly errors to steal the 8-6 win from Oregon City on April 16. The Lions rallied for five runs - three of them unearned - in the top of the seventh.

'That's a game that our kids feel like they should have won,' said Winkle.

The Pioneer diamond boss noted that West Linn also struggled defensively in the game. The Lions committed five errors and five of Oregon City's six runs were unearned.

West Linn loaded the bases in the top of the seventh on a double by Ryan Barnes and two Oregon City errors. Kyle Kraus plated two runs with a double. Two walks, a timely single and a fielder's choice brought three more runs across.

The Lions came out swinging their bats in the 21-5 win on April 14.

'It was an old-fashioned tail-whipping,' said Winkle. 'They've got some guys that like to hit and we couldn't figure out how to slow them down. They had 22 hits and we went through nine pitchers.'

Kraus did much of the damage, going 4-for-4, with two doubles and four RBI, and scattering seven hits in six innings on the hill.

Kraus, Joe Offer and Elliot Smith played pivotal roles in the Lions' 6-2 win on April 18. Kraus ripped a 3-run home run in the first inning and Offer smacked a two-run double in the third.

Smith, a crafty left-hander, allowed just five hits in six innings.

Rayce Belmont (2-for-3) rapped a pair of singles in the losing effort.

'They whipped us on Monday,' said Winkle. 'But the only real difference on Wednesday and Thursday was they had some guys come up big [at the plate], and we didn't.'

Things don't get any easier for Oregon City. After playing nonleague games with Grant and Mountain View this week, they return to league action next week with a three-game series with Lake Oswego.

'We had visions of a league championship, but now it appears like that won't happen,' said Winkle. 'Now we've got to regroup and make sure we've got a playoff spot.'