Its crowded at the top of TRL baseball standings
It's crunch time for the West Linn baseball team. With just one full series against Lakeridge and individual games against Clackamas and Putnam remaining on the schedule, there is a virtual three-way tie atop the league standings.
West Linn, Lake Oswego and Clackamas are all ranked in the top-10 in the most recent polls and each of those teams has three league losses. Clackamas currently has two more wins than the Lions and the Lakers.
The Lions, after a convincing sweep of Milwaukie last week, suffered their third loss in league on Monday, and their first since dropping an early series to Lake Oswego, 4-1 at the hands of a hot Clackamas team.
It was a battle of aces on the mound with 'two of the best pitchers in the state' squaring off according to West Linn coach Mike Lord.
Kyle Kraus got the start for the Lions and was touched up early as Clackamas turned three hits into a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning.
'They did a good job manufacturing runs,' Lord said.
West Linn quickly got one of those runs back in the top of the third when Jake Hysell knocked a solo home run.
But the Lions were kept off-balance for the remainder of the game. Joe Offer had two doubles and Kyle Connolly had a pair of singles but the team could only muster five hits in the game.
'Our pitching is there and we're playing some pretty good defense. The key is to start swinging the bats and being productive,' Lord said.
The Lions put two runners on base in the top of the seventh with one out but couldn't come up with the big hit to put them back in the game.
Fortunately for West Linn, Lake Oswego also lost on Monday to Oregon City, a team the Lions swept earlier in the year.
Last week the Lions pounded Milwaukie, winning the final game of the series 22-2. In that game Kraus belted three home runs while Reed Nicholson, Spencer Flores and Eliot Smith all provided solid innings for West Linn to keep the Mustangs at bay.
The Lions hope their depth will be enough for them to steal the next two games from Clackamas which would put them in the driver's seat for a league title.
Lake Oswego has games remaining against Oregon City and Putnam while Clackamas has non-league games next week and will conclude the season with a single game against Milwaukie.
'These are must-win games. Every game is tough but we feel pretty good about where we're at right now,' Lord said.
Lakeridge and Putnam are currently at the bottom of the Three Rivers League standings.