Pitching and defense is there as the Lions search for the clutch hit

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - West Linn catcher Alec Gans is upended at the plate during the Lions' los to Oregon City on Monday.The West Linn baseball team is getting terrific pitching and defense early on in league and the Lions have been in all four games they have played. The team is no searching for a little more consistency up and down the line-up as it looks to contend against some very formidable opponents.

“We need to force other teams to throw the ball and to put the pressure on them a little more,” coach Kevin Mills said.

West Linn captured its league-opening series against Canby, winning the first two games before dropping Friday's contest 2-1.

Mitch Mondor tossed a complete game shutout on Wednesday as the Lions cruised to their second straight 5-0 victory.

On Friday, Karsen Lindell was putting together a repeat performance, holding Canby to just two runs in six innings.

“All of our pitchers are coming out and throwing strikes and relying on their defense and when you can eliminate walks, that's going to keep you in games,” Mills said.

West Linn struggled to get the big hit in the game and trailed 2-1 heading into the top of the seventh. The Lions appeared close to finally breaking through against the Cougars, loading the bases with just one out.

West Linn then hit the ball well in two straight at bats but right at fielders for the final two outs of the game.

“Baseball's a tough game. You can hit the ball hard and find a glove and then not make great contact but find a hole,” Mills said.

On Monday, West Linn took on the defending state champions in Oregon City and the game started out as a pitcher's dual.

The Lions trailed just 1-0 in through five innings as the team's ace, Matt Fletcher, was putting together another gem against an impressive line-up.

However, Oregon City broke things open in the top of the sixth, scoring four runs as walks and errors caught up to West Linn.

“Against the teams we face in the Three Rivers League, you can't have those lapses. You need to sty focused,” Mills said.

West Linn had continued to receive good efforts at the plate from both Braden Vogt and Kevin Kott, who was hitting close to .600 in the preseason and is still hitting .400 in league.

The Lions will look to regain some momentum as they finish up the series with Oregon City this week before taking on Lakeridge starting next Monday.

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