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Wolves battle, but fall in eight

Baseball: Tualatin rallies to send the game to extra innings, but Canby pulls out the 5-4 victory
by: DAN BROOD, HE’S SAFE — Tualatin senior Peter Van Domelen (left) reaches out to touch home plate before Canby catcher Kyle Richardson in Tuesday’s Pacific Conference opener. The Cougars won 5-4 in eight innings.

TUALATIN - The young Tualatin High School baseball team battled.

The Timberwolves rallied time and time again.

They never gave up. About the only thing they didn't do was open Pacific Conference play with a win. But that certainly didn't seem to be due to a lack of effort.

Tualatin, coming back from a 3-1 deficit, was edged 5-4 in eight innings by Canby in a league-opening game played Tuesday at Tualatin High School.

'That was a heck of a game,' Tualatin sophomore second baseman Zach McPherson said after the contest. 'It's always like that against Canby. They're a very good team, but we were only one hit away.'

Canby, in addition to getting off to a win in league play, also improved to 6-4-1 on the season with the league opening win. Tualatin moved to 6-5 on the season with the setback.

'Our kids kept rallying back,' Tualatin coach Matt Unis said. 'I'm proud of them. They kept the pressure on.'

In Tuesday's game, the Wolves grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Junior Danny Johnson got things started with a leadoff single to center. One out later, senior Peter Van Domelen hit into a fielder's choice, putting him on first base with two outs in the frame.

After sophomore Levi Levasa was hit by a pitch, moving Van Domelen up to second, sophomore Cody Gibson followed with a hit-and-run single to right field, plating Van Domelen to give Tualatin a 1-0 lead.

Canby answered back in the top of the third inning, scoring three times to grab a 3-1 lead. Senior Taylor Hunter had the big hit of the frame for the Cougars with a two-out, two-run single. Eric Copenhagen stole home on the front end of a double steal later in the inning to give Canby its 3-1 advantage.

From there, Tualatin started battling back.

The Wolves got one of the runs back in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Sam Preston led off the frame with a double to left field. He moved to third base on a passed ball and scored on a grounder by McPherson.

Tualatin added another run in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at 3-3. Van Domelen led off the frame hitting the first pitch he saw to left for a single. He ended up scoring on a squeeze bunt by Gibson.

After the Cougars weren't able to score in the top of the seventh inning, the Wolves looked to have a strong opportunity to put the game away in the bottom of the frame.

Sophomore John Grill led off the inning with a double to the fence in left-center field. A groundout, followed by a walk, followed by a popout and another walk loaded the bases with two outs, but Canby relief pitcher Isaiah Crittendon got a ground-ball out to get out of the jam and send the game to extra innings.

Canby, taking advantage of a Tualatin error and a pair of fielder's choice grounders where everyone was safe, scored two runs in the top of the eighth to go up 5-3.

The Wolves tried to rally one more time.

Preston drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the eighth and McPherson followed with a double to left.

'He (Crittendon) got me with a change-up last time,' McPherson said. 'This time I was able to turn on it.'

Preston scored on a groundout by Grill to cut the lead to 5-4. But, with McPherson on third, Crittendon got a game-ending strikeout to wrap up the Cougars' 5-4 victory.

'We're getting better,' Unis said. 'We're swinging the bats well. We're growing and maturing and we're playing with a lot of heart.'

Junior left-hander Mitchell Lambson pitched a strong game for the Wolves. Throwing all eight innings, he gave up six hits while striking out 14 and walking just one.

'Mitchell is always that guy for us,' Unis said.

The Wolves had 10 hits as a team in the contest. Grill had three of those hits and Gibson added two. Van Domelen, junior Dan Pas, McPherson, Preston and Johnson added one hit apiece.