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Asai powers Lakers past McNary

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Moto Asai pitched a complete game while earning the win in Lake Oswego’s 3-2 victory over McKay on Tuesday. Asai struck out six batters in the game and also drove in two runs.

Win and survive. It's what the high school baseball playoffs are all about. To this point, Lake Oswego has been flying under the radar.

But, with each successive victory, the team looks more and more like a viable threat to challenge for another state title.

The Lakers advanced to the quarterfinals on Tuesday with a 3-2 victory over McNary. Lake Oswego was led by Moto Asai on both sides of the ball.

On the mound, Asai tossed a complete game, striking out six batters and scattering four hits.

And on offense, he was 3-for-3 with two huge RBIs. It would be difficult to ask for much more than that.

McNary was able to get on the board first. In the second inning, the Celtics loaded the bases with no outs.

Asai then coaxed a ground ball that second-baseman Craig Mooney field. He tagged out the runner from first and then threw to first base to retire the hitter.

'Moto was outstanding and we got some really good plays to back him up,' Laker coach Jake Anders said.

A run scored but the damage was limited.

Then, in the bottom of the third, Jared Van Hoon and Tom Slade hit back-to-back singles and Asai tied the game with a single of his own.

The game stayed tied until the bottom of the fifth when Van Hoon drew a walk and Asai hit a deep double that nearly carried for a home run. The shot scored Van Hoon and gave the Lakers a lead they wouldn't surrender.

Lake Oswego added an important insurance run in the bottom of the sixth.

After a double by Nik Torkelson, Mojo Martyn pinch ran.

Brian Zinsmeister laid down a sacrifice bunt to bring up Mooney.

Mooney struck out but the third strike was dropped and he alertly ran toward first base. The catcher's throw was off-target allowing Martyn to score from third.

'It was little things that helped us. Mooney hustling on that play, Jared drawing a walk earlier, those are the things you need to do in the playoffs,' Anders said.

The run would prove crucial. Asai took the mound in the top of the seventh and gave up a lead-off solo home run. Anders stayed with his starter and Asai struck the next batter out.

But McNary came up with a two-out single and, following a fly-out, the runner stole second base, giving the Celtics a runner in scoring position with two outs.

Asai wasn't fazed, striking out the game's final hitter to preserve the victory for the Lakers.

'We didn't do a good job stringing hits together. I think we need to be better at swinging earlier in the count,' Anders said.

The win came after a 10-2 victory over Barlow last week in a game that was closer than the final score would indicate. Lake Oswego only led 3-2 heading into the fifth inning.

Then the Lakers put up four runs and added three more in the sixth to put away the pesky Bruins.

Van Hoon threw a complete game for Lake Oswego on just 69 pitches. He was also 2-for-3 in the game.

Kremer was the story for the Lakers on offense. He was 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and three runs scored. Michael Wesner was 2-for-2 with a double and three runs.

Once again Asai came up with the big hit for the Lakers in the game. With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Asai belted a triple to bust the game open.

'We're not the type of team where one guy is going to carry us. We have different heroes every night. The kids are playing for each other right now,' Anders said.

Now Lake Oswego faces a long road trip to Roseburg and, with a win, the team would take on either Wilson or league rival Clackamas in the semifinals.