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West Linn now atop TRL on the diamond

The West Linn baseball team didn't figure to be down for long. And, after losing an early series to Lake Oswego, the Lions responded by completing a sweep of Oregon City and then taking the opening game of its series against Milwaukie 1-0.

Now West Linn finds itself tied atop the standings with Lake Oswego and those teams figure to battle it out for league supremacy for the remainder of the season.

Last week the Lions finished off the Pioneers in the third game of their series, winning 6-2 behind some solid pitching.

Eliot Smith got the start and went six innings for the Lions while Ryan Barnes came in for the seventh and closed Oregon City out.

Kyle Kraus hit a three-run home run for the Lions in the first inning to pace the offense.

West Linn's pitching recently has been phenomenal.

'We don't really have set starters during the week anymore. All six guys can start for us. It's just a matter of match-ups,' coach Mike Lord said.

On Monday, the Lions endured some miserable weather conditions to come away with an important 1-0 victory over Milwaukie.

Kraus pitched one inning for West Linn but his day was cut short because of a weather delay. Kyle Connolly then took the mound for the Lions in his first league action of the year.

Connolly was terrific, throwing six scoreless innings with five strikeouts. He only gave up four hits and didn't walk a batter.

'That just adds to the depth we already had,' Lord said.

As it turned out, the Lions would need every one of those scoreless innings to fend off the pesky Mustangs.

The Milwaukie starter kept West Linn off-balance and the Lions put the ball in play but struggled to score runs.

'We hit the ball hard but their guy did a nice job against us,' Lord said.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Mustangs threatened to score with runners on first and third base but Connolly was able to coax a ground out to end the threat. At that point, the Lions thought the game might be called after five innings so keeping Milwaukie off the board was crucial.

Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Justin Williams hit a single, Jake Hysell followed with a sacrifice bunt and Ryan Barnes hit a fly-ball that moved Williams to third.

With two outs, Justin Monahan beat out an infield single to plate the game's only run. The Lions will finish out their series with Milwaukie this week.