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West Linn cant recover from early deficit, season ends against Jesuit

by: MILES VANCE Left, West Linn catcher DJ Clark makes a play at home plate during last week’s second-round playoff game against Jesuit. Clark had an inside the park home run in the game for the Lions. Below, Clayton Gelfand gets set to field a throw to second base in last week’s playoff loss to the Crusaders.

Jesuit put an end to the West Linn baseball team's season for the second year in a row but, this time, there wasn't much room for second guessing. Last year the Lions left their final game of the year with a bitter taste in their mouths when rain washed out a potential playoff victory over the Crusaders, causing the teams to make up the contest the next day.

This year Jesuit put things away early, jumping out to a 6-0 lead and cruising to a 9-4 victory in the second round of the playoffs.

"Any time you lose a playoff game it's tough. We thought if we could get past Jesuit that our pitching was lined up where we might be able to make a bit of a run," coach Mike Lord said.

Jesuit scored a run in the bottom of the first inning when lead-off hitter Harrison Bruce hit a triple and was plated by an RBI single from Peter Dempsey.

"Their first two batters got hits and we started the next two batters 2-0 and that kind of set the tone," coach Lord said.

Jesuit scored just once in that inning but would blow the game open in the bottom of the second. Robert Strys walked and stole second base which was followed by an RBI single. The next batter singled and Bruce would follow with a three-run blast to make it 5-0.

Zach Shuholm would relieve James Coghill in the third inning and Jesuit would score once more before the Lions got on the board.

In the top of the fifth, West Linn broke the scoring drought when catcher D.J. Clark hit a shot to the left field wall. Jesuit's left fielder slipped in the outfield and got tangled in the fence, allowing Clark to score an inside-the-park home run.

Jesuit would go on to pad its lead with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.

The Lions struggled to hit Jesuit's starter Bradley Gaman through six innings. West Linn put runners on base but couldn't come up with the big hit to spark the offense.

In the top of the seventh, West Linn's bats finally came to life with the team trailing 9-1.

It started with another hit from Clark, this time a lead-off single. Brett Wilkerson followed with a single and Ben Trussell followed with a two-run double. Clayton Gelfand knocked an RBI single and Gaman would issue a two-out walk to Kevin Kawasaki before being relieved by Blake Evetts who tallied the final out of the game.

The Lions finished the year 21-9, picking up a co-league title along the way.

"It was a successful season. We had 14 straight wins at one point and did some nice things," Lord said.

West Linn loses some key players this year in both Riley and Brett Wilkerson along with Clark, Kawasaki and Werner Edwards but the program still has plenty of depth.

The team will need to replace its ace next year and Lord hopes that one will emerge during OIBA play over the summer.

"We have James and Zach coming back along with Clayton Gelfand and Taylor Flores. All those guys will throw for us so we have some depth," Lord said.

The OIBA season starts this Friday for West Linn against Lakeridge.