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Forest Grove avoids sweep against Tigard

Baseball - Vikings salvage their first league series with a comeback victory against Tigard
by: Zack Palmer, Forest Grove junior Mitch Ooley throws a pitch during the fifth inning of Friday’s Pacific Conference game against Tigard.

Trailing Tigard late last Friday, Forest Grove was staring down the barrel of a series sweep and an 0-3 start in Pacific Conference play.

The Vikings (4-9, 1-2) rallied just in the nick of time, scoring seven runs in the sixth inning Friday to salvage a 10-6 victory that kept them out of the conference basement heading into this week's series against Canby.

'That was a really big win for us,' said Forest Grove head coach Joe Baumgartner. 'Tigard is a very good team - probably top five in the state - but it would have been really bad for us to lose all three.'

Stealing a win from Tigard (7-4, 2-1) on Friday was the highlight of the week for Forest Grove. The Vikings trailed 6-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth, but strung together six hits in the frame for a crucial come-from-behind victory.

A single by Mitch Andresen and consecutive hit batters loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. Brent Thompson plated the first run with a fielder's choice and leadoff hitter Chris Hormann followed with an RBI single. The Vikings tied things up on a fielder's choice by senior Joey Flanery.

Forest Grove surged ahead on Kyle Swaja's RBI base hit and a two-run single from Aaron Huson. Andresen capped the rally that he helped start with an RBI single that made it 10-6.

'Honestly, going into it, winning one of three was our goal,' Baumgartner said. 'We were 2-7 after the first three series last year, and I told the guys if we can get to 4-5 through the first three series this year I think we're in pretty good shape.'

Mitch Ooley got the win with three innings of stellar relief work. The junior allowed just one hit and one run after coming into the game with Forest Grove trailing 5-2.

'Mitch did a great job,' Baumgartner said. 'He really pitched well and kept us in the game.'

Tigard won the first two games of the series last week. Staff ace and Oregon State commit Ryan Gorton struck out 11 batters in a 6-2 victory on Tuesday, and the Tigers' offense battered Huson on Thursday en route to a 13-6 win.

'Gorton is so tough. He was really sharp on Tuesday,' Baumgartner said. 'On Thursday they just tattooed us. If we threw one outside, they went the other way with it. If we threw one inside, they pulled it down the line. If we threw one in the dirt they golfed it over the infield for a single. They were just hitting everything.'

Forest Grove was scheduled to start its three-game series against Canby (5-8, 0-3) on Tuesday, weather permitting. Results of that game were not available at press time. The Vikings will play at Canby today, then return home to wrap up the series on Friday.

'Offensively, we scored runs the whole series [against Tigard], so that was encouraging,' Baumgartner said. 'I'd like to take two of three from Canby this week. That's our goal.'