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One bad inning haunts Timberwolves

Baseball: Sunset takes advantage of a pair of errors on its way to getting the victory
by: JOHN LARIVIERE, THROW IT OVER — Tualatin’s Mark Lambson gets ready to make a throw to first.

TUALATIN - One bad inning is all it takes to ruin a perfectly good baseball game and that was the third frame for Tualatin in its non-conference loss to Sunset last Thursday.

The Apollos took advantage of a pair of errors and got a big three-run double to score six runs in the third for an 8-2 win over the Timberwolves at Tualatin High.

'We gave them some outs and let them capitalize on it,' Tualatin first baseman Mitchell Lambson said. 'It's still real early. We'll learn from our mistakes.'

The Wolves played sound baseball for six innings, but couldn't overcome Sunset's six-run third and fell to 1-1 on the season, while the Apollos improved to 2-0.

With one out, Sunset drew a walk and got a single to start its decisive third inning. The Apollos loaded the bases on a fly ball to the outfield in which the left fielder slipped and the ball dropped in.

Sunset tied the game 1-1 when a liner was misjudged by the left fielder for a run-scoring error. Kyle Harper followed with a hard grounder off a diving shortstop's glove for an RBI single giving the Apollos a 2-1 lead.

With the bases still loaded, Sunset first baseman DJ Johnson provided the crushing blow, lining a stand-up double off the fence in right-center to clear the bases. Johnson would later score on an error that gave the Apollos a commanding 6-1 lead.

'We had one bad inning and it kind of compiled,' Tualatin coach Matt Unis said. 'Besides that, we did O.K.'

After getting a run off Sunset starter Daniel Manus in the second, the Wolves had trouble figuring out the left-hander the rest of the way. The Apollos tacked on two more runs on David Hosmar's double with two outs in the fifth for an 8-1 lead.

Tualatin got a run back in the bottom of the inning. Center fielder Sam Preston started it after striking out but hustling to first and reaching on a passed ball with one out. An infield error moved Preston to third as Zach McPherson reached on the fielder's choice.

Shortstop Dan Pas followed with a bloop single down the right-field line that scored Preston to make it 8-2. But an inning-ending strikeout stranded runners on first and second as Tualatin left seven on base in the game - five in scoring position.

'We're pretty confident in our pitching and fielding,' Tualatin outfielder Levi Levasa said. 'A lot of what we need to work on is offensively getting our bats going.'

Levasa had two of the Wolves' six hits Thursday, scorching a pair of doubles.

'I might've gotten lucky twice,' Levasa said. 'Coach has been working with me keeping the barrel flat.'

He ripped the first pitch he saw from Manus into right-center for a two-out double in the second. Peter Van Domelen followed with a grounder into the hole between second and third that Sunset's shortstop booted. Unis waved Levasa around third and the throw to the plate beat him, but Levasa's slide into the catcher's glove jarred the ball loose, giving Tualatin a 1-0 lead.

Sunset answered back with the six-run third and the Wolves couldn't get much else going against Manus.

Tualatin starting pitcher John Nickelson was also effective, striking out five in five innings. Levasa closed with two scoreless innings, striking out two.

'John threw excellent. That's the best outing he's had,' Unis said of the junior. 'When he missed, it was down in the zone. We didn't play defense for him for one inning, but besides that it was a great outing.'

With just two seniors starting Thursday, the Wolves are using the non-conference slate, which includes a Spring Break trip to Arizona, to put things together.

'We're trying to find our best nine then what roles the other kids are playing,' Unis said. 'We're a work in progress. The nice thing is we have 11 non-conference games to figure it out.'

Tualatin got its offense going in Friday's 19-2 win over McKay.