Baseball: Tualatin pulls away from Forest Grove to score its 11th straight victory
TUALATIN - Every time Forest Grove scored, the Tualatin baseball team didn't panic
The Timberwolves simply got even then broke through with a five-run third inning that propelled them to their eighth-straight Pacific Conference win.
Behind a 12-hit attack - seven from its bottom three hitters - and a solid effort from starting pitcher Mark Lambson, Tualatin moved to 8-0 in league with a 10-3 victory over the Vikings on Friday at Tualatin High School.
The win was the No. 2-ranked Wolves' 11th straight overall after suffering their only two losses in a doubleheader against top-ranked North Medford in late March.
'The trip to North Medford helped us out,' Tualatin shortstop/leadoff hitter Cody Gibson said. 'After that, we knew we had to play better. Our pitching staff is deep. We're playing solid defense. And we got a lot of hits in this game. We're rolling.'
'We don't think that we're winning games in a row,' said Lambson, who struck out eight in a complete game. 'We're trying to win an inning at a time and stay positive.'
The teams were tied after two innings of Friday's game with both getting a single run in each frame. After the Vikings took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third, Tualatin blasted them for five runs and Lambson settled in, allowing no runs and three hits in the final four innings.
'I didn't have my control early,' Lambson said. 'After those runs, I realized I could miss my spots. My defense makes it a lot easier on me.'
On a rare off day for Lambson, the offense picked up the slack. Tualatin matched Forest Grove's first-inning run when Gibson walked, went to second on Brandon Snyder's bloop single, stole third and scored when the catcher's throw went off the third baseman's glove and into left field.
The Vikings regained the lead with one run in the second only to have the Wolves again match them. Brad Alvarez walked, went to second on Mitchell Lambson's single to center and scored when Gibson knocked a stand-up double into the left-center gap for a 2-2 tie.
Forest Grove loaded the bases with no outs in the third then went ahead on an RBI-single to right for a 3-2 lead. Lambson's strikeout, a force at the plate on a nice play by first baseman Mitchell Lambson and a flyout to right ended the threat and left the bases full.
The frustrations only grew for the Vikings in the bottom of the inning when Tualatin scored five runs on four hits and two errors. John Grill led off with a walk, went to third when Zach McPherson drove a stand-up double over the center fielder's head, and scored on Mark Lambson's sacrifice fly.
Forest Grove tried to pick off McPherson at second, but the Tualatin junior immediately bolted for third and hustled home when the pitcher's throw got into center field. The Wolves' wheels continued to pay off after Connor George walked, stole second and third and scored on Mitchell Lambson's infield single for a 5-3 lead.
'Our whole ball club, every guy can run,' Gibson said. 'We're aggressive and that puts pressure on the defense.'
Brian Symonds followed with a liner to deep left for an RBI-double that plated Lambson. Gibson drove in Symonds on a grounder through the right side to make it 7-3. The big frame seemed to break the Vikings, who left the bases loaded again in the sixth, stranded 11 runners in the game, walked six batters and committed four errors, leading to their undoing.
'They got some runs in the beginning,' Mark Lambson said. 'But we put together that big inning so they thought they didn't have a chance to come back and that we were in control.'
And Tualatin was after tacking on three insurance runs in the fifth. Alvarez singled and Mitch Lambson doubled down the left field line to open the frame. Symonds drove in both runners with a bad-hop single past the shortstop.
Alvarez, Mitch Lambson, and Symonds - the No. 7-9 hitters - went a combined 7-for-10 with two doubles, four RBIs and six runs.
'Everyone knows if you're in this lineup, it's a privilege,' Gibson said. 'Everyone can hit and we're deep.'
Symonds stole second and went to third on a groundout. After Snyder and Grill were hit by pitches to load the bases, Mark Lambson walked to force in Symonds for the final run.
The Wolves also beat Forest Grove 3-1 on Wednesday but lost to the Vikings 5-2 in Saturday's make-up game, snapping their winning streak. Tualatin started a new one with Tuesday's 5-1 win over McMinnville and hold a three-game lead over the second-place Grizzlies and Tigard with five games left.
The Wolves were at McMinnville on Wednesday and host the Grizzlies in a 5 p.m. game on Friday.