The Pacers win their series with Oregon City to lock down a top-three finish

The Lakeridge baseball team has made the playoffs in recent seasons but it has needed to win a play-in game to do so.

However, with one series still left to play, Lakeridge clinched a top-three finish in the league by winning its final two games with Oregon City last week.

The Pacers lost a tough opening game of the series last Monday and knew they could ill-afford to lose another game to the Pioneers.

The game went back and forth to start with Lakeridge breaking a 4-4 tie on a solo home run from Jack Daraee.

Lakeridge would tack on two more runs and led 7-4 heading into the top of the seventh.

Dutton Elske had been strong against a good Oregon City line-up and had the Pioneers down to their final strike. However, Oregon City hit a two-out three-run home run to knot the score and, suddenly, it looked like the Pioneers might be in position to steal another victory.

In the bottom of the seventh, Michael Sheldon reached with two outs and advanced to second base on a passed ball.

Andrew DeMarco then reached on an infield single and Sheldon would score the winning run when a pick-off throw missed its target.

Lakeridge then played the rubber game on Friday and turned to Levi Rudolph on the mound. Rudolph danced around trouble in the first three innings, stranding multiple runners in each frame.

Meanwhile, Lakeridge played fundamental baseball and tacked on one run at a time, building a narrow lead.

The Pacers led 5-1 heading into the seventh inning and faced the heart of Oregon City's batting order. Rudolph responded with his best stuff of the evening, striking out the side to lock down the win.

“He got better and better each inning and it was definitely rewarding for him to be able to close it out,” coach Colin Griffin said.

The victory gave Lakeridge a three-game lead over Oregon City with three games left in the season plus the tiebreaker over the Pioneers.

Lakeridge closes out the year against first-place Clackamas, a team with just one league loss this year.

“It couldn't have worked out better. They're a well-coached team with great hitters one through nine. It's three games against a top playoff team,” Griffin said.

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