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Lakers repeat as OIBA champions


Lake Oswego gets healthy and rolls through the playoffs, topping Clackamas in the finals

Lake Oswego's Kenny Oyama celebrates after scoring a crucial run for the Lakers against Clackamas. The Lake Oswego baseball players are the undisputed Kings of Summer. After struggling, by their standards, for the majority of the Oregon Independent Baseball Association season, the Lakers got healthy for the playoffs and strung together a truly dominant run, to repeat as champions.

As recently as a few weeks ago, coach Jake Anders had been at a loss trying to sum up what had, up to that point, been one of the more frustrating summers in his tenure. The Lakers had been hit hard by injuries and he was left feeling somewhat uncertain about what he had heading into next spring.

However, he never strayed from the assertion that, when healthy, Lake Oswego should be one of the state's top teams.

“We really were just decimated for a while,” Anders said.

That point was proven emphatically in the OIBA postseason. When the Lakers' arms were cleared to play, it quickly became apparent that the team's pitching staff was among the deepest in the state.

Lake Oswego didn't give up more than two runs in a single game for the entirety of the playoffs and the bats also came to life on a handful of occasions, turning the team into a juggernaut.

“By the end of the playoffs, teams were running out of arms but we were able to just stay with our rotation,” Anders said.

Early on, it looked like the Lakers' OIBA title defense would be short lived. Lake Oswego dropped its opening game to West Linn 2-0 which meant that the Lakers would need to win a pair of games against the Lions just to stay alive.

With its back against the wall, Lake Oswego responded impressively. The Lakers won the next game 11-1, getting a home run and four RBIs from Jordan Horak. Then, in the rubber match, Lake Oswego won 8-2 to advance. Leadoff hitter Harrison Reece had three hits in the game to pace the offense.

Lake Oswego then continued its dominance. The Lakers pasted Glencoe 18-0 in a game shortened by the mercy rule. Oscar Stout threw five scoreless frames and also belted a triple in the contest. The Lakers had a nine-run fifth inning to put the game away.

“Oscar really pitched well for us and threw some big innings. He's a guy that really stepped up,” Anders said.

Lake Oswego then buried Sherwood 9-1 to move into the semifinals. In that game, Horak had four more RBIs while picking up the win on the mound and Mitch Verburg had three hits.

That advanced the Lakers to the semifinals where they took on league rival Clackamas.

Lake Oswego continued its winning ways and its fresh pitching staff paid dividends.

Tyler Coleman hurled a complete game, yielding just four hits and one run in a 4-1 victory. Coleman also had three hits in the game as the Lakers moved into the finals.

Clackamas would claw its way back into the championship round but would need to top Lake Oswego twice to win the title.

The Lakers made sure they wouldn't need the extra game. The Cavaliers gave the Lakers one of their biggest tests of the postseason, scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth and eventually forcing extra innings.

However, Lake Oswego scored four runs in the top of the 12th to seal the win. Travis Sanders and Max Anderson each had key RBI singles in the inning for the Lakers.

On the mound, Reece threw five strong innings before yielding to Sanders, who pitched the final seven frames and didn't give up a run in extra innings to earn the victory.

“Clackamas has been a team that's competed well against us. When you think about it, OIBA is pretty similar to the playoffs in the spring and I think that's the way these guys handled it. You can't afford to make mistakes and you have to be consistent,” Anders said.

Lake Oswego received very strong play from its returning veterans and also a few breakthrough performances that Anders had been looking for.

The championship gives the Lakers a welcome boost heading into the offseason. After a tough exit from the playoffs in the spring and a difficult start to the summer, Lake Oswego now has some momentum and the reassurance that it can compete at the highest level.