For at least another week, Lane stands atop the most competitive region in the conference.
The Titans took two of three games from the Southwestern Oregon Community College Lakers over the weekend to increase their record to 12-6.
They hold a narrow half game lead over the Clark Community College Penguins (13-7) while the Lakers sit in second place at 12-7.
The Titans, Penguins and Lakers are the only teams in the region with winning records and will battle for the two available playoff spots over the last half of regional play.
“I think it’s going to come down to pitching depth, and literally, I think the region will be decided by one play,” Lane head coach Josh Blunt said.
Lane fell to the Lakers in a 3-2 nail-biting loss on April 25 at Coos Bay, and then played a second
game that was suspended in the middle of the 12th inning due to darkness. The game will
be resumed and completed on a later date that is yet to be announced.
Sophomore Jared Priestly gave a solid performance on the mound for the Titans in the
first game. He tossed six innings and, despite not striking out a batter, kept the Titans in contention
by surrendering only three runs.
Freshman Travis Kelly threw two scoreless innings after relieving Priestly and struck out two Lakers.
The next day in Eugene, sophomore Jeff Hardy shut down the Lakers with an eight strikeout performance.
Hardy put in seven innings of work and surrendered just one run in a 2-1 Titan victory.
“That was huge,” freshman catcher Kyle Beam said. “He definitely set the stage for Game
2 as well. He just threw lights out, a lot of strikes. We couldn’t have asked for a better performance.”
The Lakers jumped to a quick start in Game 2, scoring two runs in the first inning.
However, the Titans bounced back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the first, due in part to the struggles of Lakers starting pitcher Mitchell Daughtery.
Daugherty walked two batters and allowed two hits and two runs in one inning before Laker coach John Cooper decided he had seen enough and pulled Daughtery from the game.
Lane tacked on another run in the second, but then struggled through an ugly third inning.
Freshman Jackson Bertsche was pulled midway through the third after allowing four runs in
the inning, and it appeared the Lakers had taken control of the game.
However, Beam leveled the score with a two-run homer over the left field scoreboard in the bottom half of the third. Beam, who is now hitting .263, has two homers in his last four games after struggling at the plate early in the season.
“I’m just starting to see the ball better,” Beam said. “I have guys in the lineup who are protecting
me, and it’s easier to hit with them on base.”
The next inning, Laker left fielder Cedric Zumwalt launched a deep fly to right field and broke into a home run trot, thinking the hit would clear the fence. But the ball bounced off the top of the rightfield wall and Zumwalt was thrown out at second, ending the inning and deflating a Lakers rally.
Lane took control of the game for good in the fourth inning, when sophomore Darin Nelson drove home two Titans, giving Lane an 8-6 lead that it would not surrender.
The Titans scored a run in all seven innings on their way to a 13-6 drubbing of the Lakers to
complete a sweep of the doubleheader.
This week, the Titans will start the second half of their regional schedule with a home doubleheader with the Mount Hood Saints (8-9) on May 2, and the following day they will travel to Salem to take on the Chemeketa Storm (6-11).