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Baseball: Tualatin beats Canby 10-4 to complete a league-opening series sweep
by: JOHN LARIVIERE, SMACK ATTACK — Tualatin High School junior Cody Gibson cracks another hit for the Timberwolves in their 10-4 win over Canby in Friday’s Pacific Conference game.

CANBY - For an opening series, it just doesn't get much better for the Tualatin baseball team than their three-game sweep of Canby.

The Timberwolves won the first game behind pitching and defense. The second was won in typical dramatic fashion for Tualatin-Canby contests. In Friday's closing game at Canby High School, the Wolves just plain won.

In weather made for baseball, Tualatin broke out the bats and thumped the Cougars 10-4 to reverse last season's 0-3 mark against the defending Pacific Conference champions.

'That was one of our goals (to sweep them),' said Wolves' junior Brad Alvarez, who went 2-for-3 with a solo home run. 'Canby's a good rival in baseball. It feels great to start the season with a sweep.'

Tualatin opened the 2007 league season with three straight loses to Canby, including two in extra innings. In Friday's game, the Wolves pounded out 12 hits - six for extra bases - to put the finishing touches on their 3-0 league start.

'This should be huge,' said third baseman Conner George, whose 2-run shot gave Tualatin a 6-2 lead in the third. 'In the preseason, we were getting wins but not hitting the ball like we have been. We needed to step it up at the plate.'

Before Friday's offensive outburst, the Wolves were 9-3 despite scoring less than four runs per game. Feeling looser at the plate in the warmer weather, the Wolves put up four runs in both the second and third innings Friday.

'Today we just looked great at the plate,' Tualatin coach Matt Unis said. 'The guys swung the bats a lot better. There's a big difference between 70 degrees and sunny and 40 with hail and sideways rain.'

The Wolves' bats provided the projectiles Friday.

George led off the second with a walk. Alvarez followed with a double down the left-field line. Senior Mitchell Lambson drove Canby starter Bryson Rutz's next pitch off the right field fence for a 2-run double.

Brian Symonds beat out a bunt single to move Lambson to third with Cody Gibson's groundout driving him in. Catcher John Grill's two-out double down the left-field line scored Symonds for a 4-0 lead.

Canby got two runs back in the bottom of the frame, but Tualatin turned a double play to escape further damage then did more of its own in the third. After Mark Lambson's hard liner off the first baseman's glove, George jumped on a fastball and deposited it over the 360 sign in dead center.

'I've been waiting for it,' George said of his first-ever home run. 'I didn't even feel it. Off the sweet spot.'

Two pitches later, Alvarez found his and belted a solo shot over the left-field fence.

'It felt good to go back-to-back,' Alvarez said. 'That' s what I was thinking: 'It would be sweet to hit one after him.' It wasn't as far but it was still something.'

The designated hitter has been in something of a zone this spring

'I have a lot more confidence at the plate,' Alvarez said. 'Coach helped me on a few corrections with my swing. I'm learning to not think and just react to the ball.'

With two outs, Gibson reached on an error, went to second on defensive interference and scored when Brandon Snyder lined a hanging curveball into left-center for an RBI-double and 8-2 lead.

The Cougars scored a run in the bottom of the third, but Tualatin tacked on two more for good measure in the fifth.

Snyder collected his second hit and RBI, lining a single into center to score pinch runner Daniel McGunnigle and move Symonds to third. Grill, who went 3-for-4 with two RBI, followed with a single through the hole on the left side to plate Symonds for a 10-3 lead.

The Cougars got another run in the fifth off Tualatin starter Snyder, who struck out two and didn't walk a batter in 4 1/3 innings. George relieved Snyder in the fifth and threw 2 2/3 hitless innings to lock down the win.

The victory came on the heels of Mitchell Lambson's no-hitter in the opening 2-1 victory and another strong performance on the mound by Mark Lambson in last Wednesday's 4-3 win.

In that game, the Wolves trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh. After Gibson doubled, Snyder drove him in for a 2-2 tie and Mark Lambson won it with a bases-loaded double to secure his complete-game win.

'That gave us momentum,' Tualatin coach Matt Unis said after Friday's finale. 'The first two games were typical versus Canby. It was good to break out of that.'

The Wolves continued their offensive onslaught with a 8-1 win over Newberg on Tuesday. The teams met again Wednesday (score not available as of the Times' press deadline) and complete the three-game series at 5 p.m. Friday in Newberg.