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Cougars rip Forest Grove, complete series sweep

BASEBALL: Canby blanks Viks 9-0 on Friday to wrap up a three-game sweep in conference play
by: Zack Palmer, Forest Grove senior Nathan Tasa throws a pitch during the fifth inning of last Friday’s game against Canby.

Forest Grove baseball coach Joe Baumgartner was flipping through the scorebook on Monday, recounting the details of his team's three straight losses to Canby when he noticed something odd.

During last week's Pacific Conference series, the Vikings didn't draw a single walk. In 21 innings of baseball, no Forest Grove batter was patient enough to earn a base on balls. Some of that can be attributed to Canby's pitching staff, but Baumgartner is afraid that most of it can be attributed to his team's approach at the plate - an approach that desperately needs tweaking.

'To have no walks in three games, that's really unusual,' Baumgartner said. 'To me, that says a couple things. First, it means we're seeing better pitching. But second, it means that we're not being tough outs.'

Some spots in the lineup require hitters to be more patient, while others allow hitters to be more aggressive. Right now, Baumgartner said, the guys who should be working the count are hacking away at everything they see.

'A lot of the guys down in the order are taking too many pitches, and the guys in the middle of the order are being too aggressive,' Baumgartner said. 'We need to get some of these guys to take a few more pitches and work the count to their favor.'

The lack of walks also means fewer baserunners, and fewer baserunners means fewer scoring opportunities. That could explain, in part, why Forest Grove (4-12, 1-5) was outscored 21-4 last week by a team that came into the series winless in league play.

Canby (8-8, 3-3) clipped Forest Grove 5-3 on Monday in the only game that wound up being close. The Cougars wrapped up the sweep with a 7-1 win on Wednesday and a 9-0 whitewashing on Friday.

'We're not getting hits with guys in scoring position,' Baumgartner said. 'To be honest, we just didn't hit the ball and that's the name of the game.'

Leadoff hitter Chris Hormann had five hits in the series to raise his batting average above .300 for the first time this season, but that was about the only highlight for Forest Grove, which must now turn around and face league-leading Tualatin (13-3, 6-0) in a three-game set this week.

'The thing is, we go from losing three games against Canby to playing the team that swept them the week before,' Baumgartner said. 'Our league is really tough this year. If we can get a win this week, it might jump-start us, but it's going to be tough.'

The Vikings were scheduled to play at Tualatin on Tuesday, but results were not available at press time. The teams will play at Forest Grove High School today, weather permitting, then return to Tualatin for the final game on Friday.

'I told the kids yesterday, we're going to flush [the Canby series], come back and start over,' Baumgartner said. 'We're trying to open things up a bit. I think we're at the point in the season where if guys aren't producing, we need to rotate some other guys in there and see what they can do.'