The West Linn baseball team cleared its first postseason hurdle on Monday, getting all of the offense it would need in the second inning to back Riley Wilkerson's pitching performance in a 4-2 win over Forest Grove.
"It definitely feels good to get this one out of the way. I knew I had to go out and be aggressive today," Wilkerson said.
Early in the game it appeared like the Lions might cruise to an easy opening round victory but pitcher Brandon Carow settled down after a rough start.
Wilkerson retired the first six batters he faced and West Linn's offense got started in the bottom of the second inning. Nick Hysell led off by reaching on a well-placed bunt. D.J. Clark then belted a line drive that cleared the center fielder's head to put runners on second and third base.
Taylor Flores was next and hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop that was mishandled by the fielder, allowing both runs to score to give the Lions the lead.
Brett Wilkerson kept the hot streak going with a single and lead-off hitter Ben Trussell followed with a two-run double. Clayton Gelfand was then hit by a pitch before Carow recorded a strikeout and got the next batter to ground into a double play, ending the long inning.
"In my head I was thinking that six runs would probably be the magic number for some reason but four was enough with Riley on the hill. He was solid today. That's the best middle of the order we've seen in a while," coach Mike Lord said.
Forest Grove would get a run back quickly when the Vikings' lead-off batter reached on a single and moved to second on a throwing error. He would advance to third base on a wild pitch and score on a ground out.
Jordan Porter knocked a lead-off double for the Lions in the bottom of the third but West Linn couldn't bring him in. Porter would be the last West Linn player to reach base in the game as Carow retired the next 12 batters in a row.
"Their guy did a good job changing speeds on us and we had a tough time adjusting," Lord said.
That would mean it was up to Wilkerson to make the lead hold up. Forest Grove scored again in the fifth inning on a lead-off single, wild pitch and RBI single but the Vikings never threatened after that.
The Lions played strong defense to back Wilkerson in the game, getting a handful of nice plays by third baseman Kevin Kawasaki.
"Our defense was spectacular. I know I can always trust the guys behind me," Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson recorded a perfect seventh inning to lock down the win. With the victory, West Linn advanced to play Jesuit on Wednesday but results were not available at press time.
Jesuit knocked the Lions out of the playoffs last season.