It's fortunate that Lake Oswego High School has artificial turf on its baseball field. During last Thursday's legion game against the Medford Mustangs, it rained enough to wash out two games.
But with the Field Turf's superior drainage system, the water quickly disappeared. All that was needed then was a little maintenance work to keep the mound from turning into a swamp. So, the umpires never really seriously considered calling the game off.
In retrospect, maybe a cancellation would have been the preferred outcome. Instead, the drenched Mustangs headed back down Interstate 5 with a come-from-behind 8-4 victory to their credit.
In the overall scheme of things, the game really didn't mean much since it was a non-league contest. But it would have been nice to avenge the loss the Lakers suffered against North Medford in the second round of the state high school playoffs six weeks ago.
However, last Thursday's game was hardly a rematch between the same two squads. The Mustangs are a composite team made up of the top high school players in the Medford area. On the other side, Lake Oswego had three players in its lineup that started in that high school playoff game.
After Thursday's contest, Lake Oswego coach Jake Anders refused to use that convenient excuse as a crutch.
'The bottom line is we've just got to get better,' Anders said after watching his team surrender a 4-3 lead after five innings. 'You see some flashes (of brilliance) … and then you see some indecision.'
Those who braved the inclement conditions got to see Lake Oswego's all-league pitcher Jared Van Hoon on the mound for just the second time this summer. He wasn't credited with the loss but it wasn't his best effort, either.
After a scoreless first inning, Van Hoon got himself in trouble in the second when he loaded the bases with two outs. The next batter then blooped a single into the outfield to score the first two runs of the game.
Lake Oswego's offense got going in the bottom of the second when Tom Slade reached on an error. Moments later, Steve Eisenhauer singled home Slade to cut the Lakers' deficit in half.
The Mustangs tried to get that run back in the third but Lake Oswego thwarted the attempt with an unusual double play that went from second baseman Tom Banta to first baseman Michael Wesner for the first out. Then, Wesner threw to catcher Ryan Attridge to cut down a runner at home.
The two teams then traded runs in the fourth with Medford's tally coming on an infield single. In the bottom of the frame, Van Hoon helped his own cause with a lead-off single and later scored on a groundout.
The fifth inning also was a good inning for Van Hoon. He started by holding the Mustangs hitless in the top half of the frame. Then in the bottom half, Van Hoon doubled to score Nick Rulli to tie the game at 3-3. Moments later, Moto Asai singled to score Van Hoon, and the Lakers had their first lead at 4-3.
The lead was short-lived, though. In the top of the sixth, Medford benefited from a hit batter, a stolen base and another bloop single, which tied the game at 4-all.
Lake Oswego seemed posed to regain that lead in the bottom of the sixth, but a double play killed that threat. Then, everything seemed to go wrong in Medford's half of the sixth.
Van Hoon started that inning at shortstop after exceeding his usual pitch-count limit. Tom Zarosinski came on in relief and quickly recorded the inning's first out. But then he gave up a double and two walks to load the bases.
Anders then switched to reliever Nik Torkelson in effort to kill the rally. He induced the first batter into an infield grounder, but a moment of indecision by the fielder ended any chance for a double play and the Mustangs scored what eventually turned out to be the winning run. Medford then plated three more runs on a pair of singles.
'We'll get better,' Anders said after the game. 'But it's time for some of those young players to start taking a step up.'
Anders' teams always seem to have a habit of delivering in the clutch. So, it would be surprising if this group isn't doing it on a regular basis by the end of the summer season.
'The key is for us to keep patient,' the coach said. 'But you've always got that delicate balance between staying patient and not lowering expectations.'