LO plays long ball, loses

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lake Oswego’s Bennett Frazier delivers a pitch during last Thursday’s 10-3 loss to West Linn. Frazier and two other Lake Oswego pitchers gave up 11 walks in that game. The Lakers rebounded from that loss with a pair of victories during a spring break trip to Arizona.

The Laker baseball team got off to a tough start in league play, dropping a 10-3 decision to West Linn last week before leaving for a four-game tournament in Arizona over spring break.

All three of Lake Oswego's runs came on solo home runs but the Lions' patience at the plate and timely hitting proved to be the difference in the game.

Heading into the showdown, it was generally believed that West Linn and Lake Oswego would battle all season long for supremacy in the Three Rivers League. And the Lions came away with the first victory in that battle.

'West Linn and Lake Oswego has become a pretty good rivalry. We were a little disappointed in our performance because we didn't play our game,' Laker coach Jake Anders said.

West Linn got on the board quickly, scoring twice in the bottom of the first inning as Lakers starter Bennett Frazier struggled with his control. After giving up the two runs, Frazier was faced with the bases loaded with only one out recorded. He then coaxed a double-play to stop the bleeding.

In the top of the second, Jared Van Hoon came through with a two-out home run to left field, cutting the deficit in half. Moto Asai followed with a single before West Linn pitcher Kyle Kraus tallied the inning's final out.

The Lions picked up two more runs in the bottom of the second, drawing three walks and getting a pair of two-out hits to make the score 4-1.

On the afternoon, West Linn drew 11 walks off of the Lakers' three pitchers.

'You can't give up 11 walks and expect to win,' Anders said.

In the top of the third, Lake Oswego's Matt Stutes led off with a booming home run to left-centerfield which cut the lead in half once again but Kraus was able to retire the next three batters.

Kraus was solid for West Linn all afternoon, mixing up the speed on his pitches while tossing a complete game.

The Lions added a run in the third and fourth innings but, in the top of the fifth, Stutes came through again for the Lakers.

With one out, he belted a pitch below his knees over the left field fence to make the score 6-3. But that was as close as Lake Oswego would get for the remainder of the contest.

West Linn put the game away in the bottom of the fifth inning. With Craig Mooney on in relief, the Lions' Ryan Barnes hit a three-run home run with one out. Colby Martzall later added an RBI single to complete the scoring for West Linn in the game.

'It's early in the season. We just have to concentrate on what's ahead of us. There are too many league games to play to dwell on one loss,' Anders said.

Over the break, Lake Oswego traveled to Arizona for a four-game tournament. The Lakers dropped their opening contest against Wheat Ridge High School from Colorado 7-3.

Mooney got the start for Lake Oswego and was nearly unhitable for six innings. The Lakers led 3-1 heading into the final inning before a handful of well-placed hits allowed Wheat Ridge to score six times and get the victory.

'It was kind of a frustrating first day. Craig pitched a really solid game. I think it was our fault for leaving him in too long,' Anders said.

On the tournament's second day, Lake Oswego rebounded impressively with a 12-3 win over Rampart High School from Colorado.

Freshman Tom Zarozinski got the start, tossing three innings and earning the victory while Tommy Banta closed the game out in relief. The Lakers virtually put the game away in the first inning.

Lake Oswego scored seven runs in the opening stanza. Cooper Mandelblatt hit an RBI double and Michael Wesner followed with a run-scoring single. Van Hoon and Asai also tallied RBIs in the first to give the Lakers a lead they wouldn't surrender.

'We jumped out real quickly and got some solid performances on the mound,' Anders said.

In the team's third game, the Lakers continued to crush the ball, beating Chatfield High School, also from Colorado, 15-4.

Nearly every Laker got in on the action. Alex Freeman was 3-for-5 with three runs scored, Mandelblatt was 4-for-5 with three runs and a pair of RBIs, Frazier hit a home run in the first inning and ended the day with six RBIs while Duncan White belted a home run and also recorded three RBIs.

'We don't preach a power-hitting game. It's more about driving the ball from gap to gap but a lot of guys are really swinging the bat well right now,' Anders said.

Van Hoon pitched a complete game to record the win for Lake Oswego.

The Lakers take on Columbine High School today (Thursday) before returning home to continue league play.

'I think things are starting to come together for us at the right time,' Anders said.