Breakout season leads to seven all-league awards for Forest Grove players

Armed with a talented and senior-laden roster in 2011, Forest Grove made a mid-season push for a Pacific Conference baseball title - at one point winning 10 of 11 games - and ultimately finished fourth, earning the program its 12th state playoff berth since 1996.

That success was rewarded earlier this month with the selection of seven Forest Grove players to the All-Pacific Conference baseball team and two to the OSAA Class 6A All-State squad.

Brandon Carow and Jake Bennett scored the most hardware for the Vikings, with both being named as First Team all-state and all-league selections.

Carow, a senior infielder and pitcher, was a unanimous all-league selection after batting .426 this season with 10 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and a team-high 24 runs scored. As a pitcher, Carow went 5-3 with a miniscule 0.88 ERA. He pitched complete games in five of his seven starts and allowed opponents to bat just .219 against him.

Bennett, a junior outfielder, was also a First Team all-state and all-league selection in addition to being named Pacific Conference Player of the Year. He led the Vikings in most offensive categories, including batting average (.513), on-base percentage (.558), hits (39), home runs (4) and RBIs (24), while striking out just four times in 88 plate appearances.

'Brandon and Jake, they're two kids who prove that if you work hard and devote yourself to the game, you can get to the next level,' Forest Grove head coach Kevin Tucker said. 'I would love to have 100 kids like them. Every day I show up and I'm excited to coach them, which is a testament to the kind of kids they are.'

Other Forest Grove players who earned postseason awards included senior Eric Huson, a Second Team all-league selection as a pitcher and an honorable mention pick as a first baseman, and junior Kyle Vanderkin, a Second Team honoree as an outfielder.

Huson started eight games for Forest Grove last season, going the distance in five of them and finishing the year with a 4-4 record and 3.37 ERA. The hard-throwing righthander struck out 64 batters in 54 innings of work and also earned a save during the season. At the plate, Huson batted .318 with three doubles and 14 RBIs.

Vanderkin batted .320 last season with a team-high 13 extra-base hits, including 10 doubles and two home runs. The junior finished the season with 22 runs scored and 15 RBIs.

Forest Grove also had three honorable mention all-league selections, including sophomore catcher Kyle Townzen and senior outfielders Lee Holscher and Tyler Elich.

Townzen had a breakout rookie season that included a .288 batting average, 12 RBIs and his first career home run.

Holscher batted .290 with five doubles and 11 RBIs, while Elich finished the season with a .278 average and seven RBIs.

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