The Lane baseball team has faced plenty of high pressure situations this season. Last weekend, the Titans saw their toughest test thus far and didn’t blink. With the season on the line, Lane swept a three games series against the Southwestern OregonCommunity College Lakers and are now headed to the NWAACC Playoffs for the first time since 2011.
The Titans picked up a 9-6, nine-inning victory to begin the series on May 17 and, later in the day, bested the Lakers with a 7-1 seven-inning win. The next day, they finished a game that had been suspended due to darkness on April 26. The game was tied 2-2 when it was suspended, but the Titans exploded for four runs in extra innings to cap off a 6-2 win.
They outscored the Lakers 22-8 in the series and committed just one error while surrendering only two walks.
“We played unbelievable catch and we made all the routine plays,” Lane head coach Josh Blunt said. “Every single time they scored, we scored on top of it. It’s kind of a recipe for success.”
In the first inning of Game 1, the Lakers scored two quick runs to gain an early advantage. However, freshman catcher Kyle Beam put the Titans ahead with one swing when he launched a three-run home run in the top of the second inning. From that moment, the Titans never trailed.
“As soon as Beam hit that home run, the momentum just changed,” sophomore first baseman Jarren Goddard said. “We started putting runs up and after that, we saw SWOCC and their demeanor and could just tell that they really didn’t want to be there.”sophomore outfielder Darrin Nelson was 3-for-3 with three RBIs for the Titans. Freshman Malik Evans picked up the win out of the bullpen and fellow freshman Shane Quarterly tossed three innings and surrendered no hits or runs to close out the game.
Beam went 2-for-5 and sophomore outfielder Darrin Nelson was 3-for-3 with three RBIs for the Titans. Freshman Malik Evans picked up the win out of the bullpen and fellow freshman Shane Quarterly tossed three innings and surrendered no hits or runs to close out the game.
The following game, Goddard picked up the big hit for the Titans.
The game was tied 1-1 entering the top of the seventh until Goddard smashed a grand slam and essentially clinched the series for the Titans.
“It felt great,” Goddard said. “It was probably the first ball I’ve hit hard in about a month and after that, as a team, it kind of took all the pressure off of us.”
Goddard and sophomore shortstop Tucker Campbell each went 2-for-4 and sophomore pitcher Travis Kelly stymied the Lakers offense in his first start of the season. Kelly threw six innings and surrendered just one run and six hits while striking out seven Laker batters.
The Titans knew they had already clinched a playoffs berth after the second game, but continued their hot offensive streak the next day in a third game that had no actual implications.
They scored four runs in the top of the 13th inning, and sophomore pitcher Parker Sherrell closed the door on any chance of a Laker comeback with a perfect performance in the bottom of the 13th. Sherrell struck out all three batters he faced.
After a regular season in which they finished 27-16 overall and 19-11 in Southern Region play, the Titans will head to Longview, Wash., on May 22 to begin the NWAACC Tournament.
In the first round of the five-day tournament, the Titans will face the Edmonds Community College Tritons (34-7)(20-5), the tournament’s top seed.
“I have been told throughout the year that most people thought Edmonds and us were the best two teams in the NWAACC,” Blunt said. “But who knows. We’re not going to deviate from what we do … You play against the baseball.”
The Titans will take on the Tritons at David Story Field with first pitch scheduled for 4:35 p.m. on May 22.
Lane sophomore shortstop Tucker Campbell went 3-for-6 with two doubles in two wins over Southwestern Oregon Community College on May 17.