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LO Legion squad makes easy work of St. Helens

The Lake Oswego American Legion team's pitching has been lights out virtually all summer long and, if that trend continues, the team will certainly be a tough out in the metro playoffs.

Lake Oswego's pitching was on display last week as the team cleared its first hurdle, sweeping a best-of-three series against St. Helens while only yielding three runs in two games.

Moto Asai took the mound for the Lakers in their opening contest last Saturday and went six strong innings, taking a 4-0 lead into the seventh before being relieved by Jared Van Hoon.

Asai gave up just two hits while striking out seven batters and kept the St. Helens offense off balance for virtually the entire game.

'Moto has that good slider and he really had their guys fishing for it,' coach Brian Keswick said.

Lake Oswego got on the board in third inning. Jeff Kremer had an RBI single and later scored on a bases loaded walk to give his team a 2-0 lead.

The Lakers tallied another run in the fourth inning when Tom Slade was walked in with the bases loaded and Kremer, who was 3-for-4 on the day, scored in the sixth inning on an RBI double by Van Hoon.

Lake Oswego was on cruise control until the seventh inning when St. Helens finally was able to put runners on base. Van Hoon entered the game with the bases loaded but was able to get out of the jam to give his team the edge in the series.

On Sunday, the Lakers picked up where they left off, putting St. Helens away early en route to a 9-2 victory to win the series.

Lake Oswego scored three runs in the first inning. Brian Zinsmeister led off with a single and later scored on an RBI base hit by Asai. Nick Torkelson then drove in two more runs with a double to give the Lakers a quick 3-0 advantage.

Torkelson had a stellar evening, going 4-for-4 at the plate with three doubles and four RBIs. What made his night even more impressive was the fact that each one of those hits came with two outs. Eight of the nine batters in the line-up had hits for the Lakers.

'We had great timely hitting and Nick just had a terrific showing,' Keswick said.

Craig Mooney tossed a complete game for Lake Oswego, striking out seven batters while giving up only four hits. Mooney took a one-hitter into the sixth inning before giving up a pair of runs but by then, the Lakers had already built a big lead.

'What's exciting is that these last two games were probably the best we've played all summer,' Keswick said.

While Lake Oswego's pitching staff was stellar again, what was more encouraging to Keswick was the team's marked improvement defensively. After making six errors against Clackamas last Monday, Lake Oswego only had one total error in the two playoff games.

'Our defense was great. It was a huge turnaround from a week before,' Keswick said.

Asai, Mooney and Van Hoon have all turned in gems on the mound in recent starts and that pitching depth gives the Lakers confidence as the playoffs continue.

'Those guys have all pitched really well. It's great to have three pitchers who are all pretty equal,' Keswick said.

Next up for Lake Oswego is another best-of-three series against Southridge, a team that the Lakers beat earlier in the summer. Van Hoon will get the first start for the Lakers.