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Tigers start strong, roll to playoff win

Baseball: Tigard gets an 8-3 victory over Reynolds for its first playoff win since 2008
by: DAVID BALL ON THE GO — Tigard junior Hikaru Mizuno heads down the first-base line after one of his three hits.

TIGARD - After losing out in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs in each of the past two years, the Tigard High School baseball team made sure to have a longer stay this year.

The Tigers picked up their first postseason victory since their state runner-up season of 2008 by rolling to an 8-3 win over Reynolds in a Class 6A state playoff first-round game played Monday at Tigard High.

'It's good to get this first win, now we just want to keep it going,' said Tigard senior Eric Najdek who turned in a complete-game pitching performance in the win.

Reynolds, the No. 3 team out of the Mt. Hood Conference, finished its season with a final overall record of 17-10.

Tigard, the third-place team from the Pacific Conference, improved to 19-9 on the season with the victory. The Tigers also advanced to meet rival Tualatin in a state playoff second-round game played Wednesday at Tualatin High School. Results of that game weren't available when the Times went to press.

Tigard, in Monday's first-round playoff game with Reynolds, up multiple runs in each of the first three innings to build a 7-1 lead in a game was that never in doubt.

Najdek helped his own cause with a two-run single in the first inning.

Sophomore Ryan Bickel helped bring home two more runs in the bottom of the second inning.

First, Bickel singled in a run. Later in the frame Bickel took off on an apparent stolen-base attempt, drawing a throw from the Reynolds catcher. On the play, Bickel stopped in his tracks 10 feet short of the bag and turned back down the baseline, buying time for junior teammate Hikaru Mizuno to sprint home from third base.

'We were swinging the bats well from the beginning and that gave us a lot of confidence,' Tigard coach Tom Campbell said. 'Usually this season when we get out to a good start, we've found success.'

The floodgates stayed open in the third inning when Tigard senior Spencer Smith led off with a triple to right field, while seniors Kyler Garcia and Trevor Nix came up with run-scoring singles.

Meanwhile, Reynolds failed to cash in on its early chances, stranding two runners in scoring position in the second inning and wasting a lead-off triple in the third when Tigard junior shortstop Tucker Campbell fired the ball home to catch Derek Mueller with time to spare.

Najdek finished with three strikeouts and retired the side in order in the sixth inning. The Tigers also turned a pair of double plays, including a final one that squelched a desperate Raiders' rally in the seventh.

Mizuno and Bickel led the Tiger offensive attack, each going 3-for-4 at the plate and accounting for three runs.

Tigard, if it won its second-round playoff game at Tualatin on Wednesday, will face either Central Catholic or North Salem in the state quarterfinal round on Friday. Tigard would be the home team in a quarterfinal match-up with North Salem. The Tigers would have to travel if they were to meet Central Catholic in the quarterfinals.