West Linn powers past Canby 16-2 to complete sweep
Just minutes before the start of the baseball game between West Linn and Canby on Friday, April 5, the skies just absolutely opened up.
The afternoon's torrential rain stopped after a few minutes, but soon after that, the Lions opened up on the Cougars.
West Linn scored once in the first inning, twice in the second, seven times in the third and ran away to beat Canby 16-2 at West Linn High School.
"It was definitely fun to come out with the boys, coming back from California and open up league strong the way we wanted," said West Linn senior catcher J.J. Hoover, who went 4 for 4 at the plate, drove in three runs and scored twice. "I'm happy with how we did."
"It's really important to start off fast," agreed West Linn senior first baseman Zach Bell, who went 2 for 4 at the plate with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored. "We saw in that second game that we've got to focus on execution. That's what we did in this game."
With the win, the Lions completed their three-game sweep of the Cougars and moved to 3-0 in the Three Rivers League and 6-4 overall. Canby, meanwhile, lost for the fourth straight time and fell to 0-3 in TRL play and 3-7 overall.
Despite the lopsided nature of their Friday loss, the Cougars left believing that they can compete with West Linn, as evidenced by their 3-1 margin of defeat in the series' second game.
"I think it really does have to do with your mentality going into the game," said Canby junior catcher Chaz Kayser, who doubled and went 2 for 3 at the plate. "You can't really think about winning the game. You've got to focus on playing good, because when you play good, winning comes with it."
"We just need to be more confident," added Canby junior Cayden Delozier, who went 1 for 3 at the plate, knocked in one run and scored once. "Right now, we're just not as confident as we should be. We just played one of the best teams in the state and it didn't come out our way, but stuff happens. We've just got to come back, practice, keep working hard and just keep playing."
In addition to the Lions' success with the bats — they banged out 19 hits including three home runs — they got a solid effort from senior starting pitcher J.K. Kelly. Kelly, a Xavier commit, threw four innings and allowed just one hit, no walks and one hit batter while striking out six.
"I felt pretty good," Kelly said. "I just came out looking to compete and I think I did that well today."
The Lions — they played as visitors on Friday after the game was moved from Canby to West Linn's artificial turf field — started fast, getting a leadoff double by Kelly in the top of the first inning, and one batter later, an RBI single to right by Hoover to grab a 1-0 lead.
After Canby failed to score in its half of the first — the Cougars wasted a one-out single by Josh Oakley — West Linn came back with two runs in the top of the second. The Lions loaded the bases on a single and two walks from Cougar starter Garrett Sasse, then got an RBI walk by Caden Parker and a sacrifice fly by Hoover to push ahead 3-0.
Then, after Kelly shut down the Cougars in the second, the Lions exploded for seven runs in the top of the third. West Linn sent 12 batters to the plate in the third and collected eight hits, that stanza highlighted by Cormac Duffy's RBI triple, Kelly's three-run homer to left (it banged off the outside of the school), a two-run home run to center by Bell and an RBI single by Parker off reliever Nick Froyd to extend the Lions' lead to 10-0.
Kelly struck out four batters in the next two innings to keep Canby at bay, while in their next at-bats, the Lions just kept hitting. Parker drove in a run in the fourth, Kyle Sullivan came off the bench to hit a three-run homer in the sixth and Hoover added a run-scoring single in the seventh boost the West Linn lead to 16-0.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Cougars got their bats going against Bell, getting a double by Tyler Marsh, an RBI single from Delozier and a run-scoring single up the middle by Brian Moore for the final 16-2 margin.
"Anytime we got a runner on base, a runner on second, you've got to score them and that's what we did," Bell said. "We really produced. And once we got those insurance runs — really ran the tables and kept going — it was contagious. Hitting like we do — one guy does it and then everybody can pick up on it."
"We don't really think about personal results," Hoover said. "We just try to do team things and the personal things tend to take care of themselves."
For their part, the Cougars just want to keep working and get better.
"We can stick with this team if we just play our game and not play their game," Delozier said. "Honestly, I think it's just about hitting and our approach at the plate. I think that's the main thing we need to get better at, just getting more guys on and scoring the guys that get on."
For the game, Kelly went 3 for 4 with a homer, two doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored, Duffy went 2 for 3 with one RBI and two runs scored, and West Linn's Chase Bartley went 2 for 3. As a team, Canby had six hits against three West Linn pitchers.
Next up, West Linn hosts Lake Oswego at 5 p.m. Monday, April 8, plays at LO at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, and hosts the Lakers at 5 p.m. Friday, April 12. For Canby, the Cougars host Liberty at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, and play at Westview at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 10.