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HILLSBORO — Not only did the Lake Oswego Lakers make the Class 6A baseball playoffs after an 1-8 start, but they are thriving in the postseason.
Coming off a 5-2 road win Monday over No. 5 Sprague, the 28th-seeded Lakers notched their second upset win of the tournament with a 3-2 win in eight innings over No. 12 Lincoln on Wednesday at Ron Tonkin Field.
Alex Giroux delivered the big hit for the Lakers, a double to the left-field wall that scored Jake Dukart in the top of the eighth, and second baseman Harrison Bridwell made a sparkling backhanded play up the middle for the final out and another improbable playoff victory.
“Our kids have bought into the idea of trying to grind games out,” Lakers coach Jake Anders said. “We started the season 1-8, and everyone was saying, ‘Hey, what’s happening to LO?’ Our kids have committed to the process of getting better.”
The win moves the Lakers to 13-16 overall, and they are by far the highest-seeded team left in the postseason, but they certainly didn’t look like a team with a losing record against the PIL champion Cardinals.
Bridwell’s tremendous defensive gem was as big of play as any of the timely hits by the Lakers. Lincoln lead-off hitter Matt Easton drilled a hard ground ball up the middle, and Bridwell sped to his right, slid on a knee and snared it behind second base. He popped to his feet and fired the ball to first baseman Dawson Jaramillo to end the game, leaving Lincoln’s Gabe Skoro — who went 3-for-4 with two doubles — in the on-deck circle.
Jaramillo gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead in the sixth with one of the more bizarre ground-rule doubles. He hit a pop-up into shallow left field toward the foul line, and aided by a swirling wind, fell between two Lincoln fielders. It landed in fair territory, and had so much sidespin that it bounced off the artificial surface and over the short fence in foul territory to score Dukart.
Lincoln tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh on a Nick Ostmo single. Skoro led off the inning with a double, and following two strikeouts, Ostmo slapped a 1-1 pitch from Mitchell through the left side to score Skoro and make it 2-2. Ostmo moved to second on the throw home.
Following an intentional walk to Myles Parkel, Lincoln catcher Zach Ross lined a ball right to Lake Oswego centerfielder Matt Sebolsky to end the inning.
Lincoln struggled to get a timely hit all game long. They stranded the bases loaded twice, and in all left 10 runners on base.
“We battled the whole time, just like we’ve always done, and it was an emotional game that didn’t go our way,” Lincoln coach CJ Watson said. “We didn’t get that hit to break it open. We had our chances, just didn’t cash in.”
Lake Oswego scored its first run on a Lincoln throwing error trying to complete a double play in the second inning, but Lincoln’s defense rebounded to make a fantastic play to cut down Sebolsky at the plate in the sixth. Sebolsky hit a line drive that slipped past the left fielder, and trying to leg out an inside-the-park home run, Sebolsky was nailed at the plate by a great relay throw from Nolan Ostmo to Ross.
Lake Oswego catcher Joe West threw out Lincoln’s McKean Farnell trying to steal second to end the bottom of the sixth.
As the score suggests, pitching on both sides was top notch. Between Dukart and Mitchell for Lake Oswego and Lincoln starter Jon Fortner, getting on base wasn’t easy.
Dukart mowed through the powerful Lincoln lineup with 10 strikeouts and two walks in five innings pitched. He allowed five hits, an unearned run, and threw 61 strikes in 99 pitches. Mitchell finished the game and needed just 39 pitches to get through three innings. He struck out five and walked one.
“Dukart pitched his butt off,” Watson said. “Hats off to that young man. He pitched himself out of a lot of jams, and he’s a bulldog.”
Fortner pitched 7 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks in 101 pitches. He allowed two earned runs on six hits and threw 62 strikes. Jackson McCormick made the final out of the eighth in two pitches.
For Lake Oswego, Jaramillo and Giroux had two hits each. For Lincoln, Skoro and Nick Ostmo had multi-hit games, Ostmo with two hits.
The Lakers move on to Friday’s quarterfinals to face No. 4 Beaverton at 5 p.m., and they are relishing the role of underdog this postseason. It will be the Lakers’ third road game of the playoffs.
“We love it,” Anders said. “We know what we have, and we know we can compete, but you have to play every day. We can’t take a day off.”