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Vikings avoid three-game sweep against Tigard

BASEBALL: Forest Grove tops Tigard 7-2 in the final game of a three-game set
by: Tommy Whitcomb, Forest Grove senior Chad Vandehey follows through on a pitch during Friday’s Pacific Conference game against Tigard.

Forest Grove has struggled at times this season with big innings - walking too many batters and committing too many errors, allowing opponents to score runs in bunches. On Friday, the Vikings finally put together a big inning of their own and clubbed Tigard 7-2 for their first Pacific Conference win of the year.

Forest Grove (3-10, 1-2) loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and broke open a tie game. Chris Hormann drove in two runs with a bloop single down the left field line and a Tigard error on Joey Flanery's fly ball to right field plated two more. Addison Hummel followed with an RBI single and Flanery would score on a passed ball to make it 7-1.

Aaron Huson pitched two innings of scoreless relief for Forest Grove, while starter Chad Vandehey held Tigard (11-2, 2-1) to two runs - one earned - over five innings.

'We got good pitching and played good defense and we were able to put together a big inning,' said Forest Grove head coach Joe Baumgartner. 'Tigard is a good team, so being able to get a win against them is big for us.'

The Vikings almost stole a win from the Tigers on Thursday, but lost 3-2 despite playing their best all-around game of the season.

Forest Grove scored a run in the fourth on a Tigard error and another in the fifth on Flanery's RBI single to tie the game, 2-2. Huson came on in relief of starter Mitch Ooley in the bottom of the fifth and quickly found himself facing a bases loaded, nobody out situation. The sophomore was able to escape with only one run crossing the plate, but it would prove to be the game winner.

'If you can get out of a bases-loaded, no out situation with only one run scoring, that's pretty good,' Baumgartner said. 'As far as I'm concerned, we couldn't have done any better.'

Forest Grove threatened in the top of the seventh, getting Dylan Sullivan to third base with two outs. Hummel smacked a long fly ball down the right field line but it was caught to end the game.

Huson gave up just the one run in two innings of relief work, while Ooley allowed two runs in four innings. Furthermore, the Vikings turned in their first error-free game of the year and rolled three double plays.

'We played awesome,' Baumgartner said. 'It might have been our best game of the year. We made no errors, which is uncharacteristic of how we've played this year.

'Tigard is ranked third in the state, so to get a win and play two good games against them is a positive step for us.'

Forest Grove's sparkling performance on Thursday and Friday was salve for the wound of a 22-5 drubbing on Monday in a game that featured two rain delays and took four and a half hours to finish.

The Viks led 1-0 before the first delay but gave up five runs when play resumed. The Vikings trimmed the deficit to 5-3 before play was stopped again, but Tigard scored seven runs on the tail end of that delay. The gap continued to widen as Forest Grove used six different pitchers.

'(Tigard) played really well and we played really bad,' Baumgartner said.

Forest Grove has a three-game series against Canby this week, with a home game this afternoon and a road game on Friday.