Horns rally to win tourney thriller
Jesse Wantland's three-run triple in the seventh gives Tigard a 6-5 win
CEDAR MILL - One swing of the bat.
That's all that stood between the Tigard Longhorns OIBA baseball team and the end of the game - and the end of its season.
The Longhorns, in the bottom of the seventh inning of its OIBA tournament game with Tonkin Nissan from Sherwood High School, were trailing 5-3. There were two outs in the frame and two strikes on their batter at the plate.
One more strike and their season would end with a second straight loss in the double-elimination tournament.
Well, the game did end on the next swing of the bat. But thanks to Jesse Wantland, a Tigard High School senior-to-be, the Longhorns' season continued.
Wantland, coming through in the clutch, ripped a two-out bases-loaded triple to right-center field, driving in the game-winning runs in the Longhorns' 6-5 victory in a back-and-forth game played last Thursday at Sunset High.
'I knew if I struck out, it would be the end of our season,' Wantland said after the game. 'I was just sitting on a fastball, and he threw a fastball and I just swung.'
With the win, Tigard, which fell 6-4 to McMinnville in its tournament opener on July 27, improved to 34-23 in the summer season to that point and advanced in tourney play.
'We get to play another game,' Tigard coach Tom Campbell said. 'Jesse has been consistent all summer long. He's been a huge, huge help. Since the third week of the summer, he's been hot.'
Tonkin Nissan, in last Thursday's game, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning when John Dailey singled in Taylor Bonawitz.
But Tigard rallied in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring three times in the frame to take a 3-1 advantage.
Jake Biglow got things going for the Longhorns in the inning with a one-out ground-rule double to left field. Wantland was then hit by a pitch. Brody Parsons followed with a double to the gap in right-center field. Biglow and Wantland both scored on the hit to give Tigard a 2-1 lead.
Parsons moved to third base on a fielder's choice grounder hit by Kyler Heaston. Parsons then scored on a bunt single by Tucker Campbell to give the Longhorns their 3-1 margin.
But the Sherwood squad came up with a rally of its own in the top of the fifth inning. Tyler Ratcliffe hit a two-run single, driving in both Connor Munro and Dailey, and Alex Barzee singled in both Logan Ballarche and Ratcliffe to give Tonkin Nissan a 5-3 lead.
The Longhorns were still facing the 5-3 deficit heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Tigard's first batter of the frame struck out. Parker Garland then drew a walk, but, then, a fly out to center field moved Tonkin Nissan to just one out away from victory.
But Tigard wasn't about to give up.
Erik Lien reached base on an infield single and Biglow drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Wantland then came up and, on a 2-2 pitch, hit his bases-clearing, game-winning triple.
'I saw the ball get to the gap, but I didn't know if Jake was going to make it,' Wantland said with a laugh. 'But he hustled. This win was pretty big for us.'
Ryan Bickel picked up the pitching win for Tigard, striking out five and walking three in a complete-game performance.
The Longhorns, as a team, had six hits in the win. Biglow, Parsons, Tucker Campbell, Robby Chabreck, Lien and Wantland had one hit apiece.
In the July 27 tourney first-round game with McMinnville, Parsons had three hits, including a two-run double, for the Longhorns.
Tigard saw its tournament stay end Friday with a 13-1 loss to Dr. Barney's from Southridge High School.