Pitching, defense key the Tigers' 2-1 victory over Century

by: DAN BROOD - THROWING STRIKES -- Tigard High School senior Conner Bryant delivers a pitch to the plate during the Tigers' 2-1 win over Century. TIGARD — Things weren’t going the Tigers’ way.

Their pitching was strong and their defense was solid. They were also hitting the ball hard. But those hard hits seemed to be right at the opposing defenders — over and over again.

Meanwhile, things just seemed to drop into place for the Tigers’ opponents.

All that added up to a four-game losing streak in Pacific Conference play.

That said, the Tigard High School baseball team needed a win — in the worst way.

And, thanks to a pair of first-inning runs, as well as their usual strong pitching and defense, the Tigers got that needed victory.

Tigard ended its losing skid on Friday by scoring a 2-1 victory over Century in a Pacific Conference game played at Tigard High School.

“Oh my gosh, we needed that bad,” Tigard junior first baseman Jake Biglow said after the game. “We were in a major slump. We needed to win ASAP.”

“We need to get on a roll,” said Tigard senior Conner Bryant, who turned in a complete-game pitching performance in Friday’s contest. “We’ve been focused all season, and we’ve been hitting the ball hard, but right at people. And it seems like the other teams get their hits to drop in.”

Century fell to 4-5 in league play and to 8-10 on the season to that point with the loss. Tigard improved to 3-6 in Pacific Conference games while evening its overall record at 9-9 with the victory.

“We needed this,” Tigard coach Tom Campbell said.

The Tigers got off to a fast start in Friday’s game, pushing a pair of runs across in the bottom of the third inning.

Senior Parker Garland, batting in the leadoff spot for Tigard, was hit by a pitch to start the frame. Senior Robby Chabreck followed with a double to left field. Garland scored on the hit to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Chabreck moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by junior Bruin Campbell. Then, after Bryant was hit by a pitch, Biglow drove a single to center field, plating Chabreck to make the score 2-0.

Bryant and the Tigard defense took over from there.

In the top of the second inning, Campbell, playing at second base, and junior shortstop Shane Rasor combined to turn an inning-ending double play.

But the Jaguars battled back in the fourth inning. Century senior Josh Packard led off the frame with a single to center field. He then moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by junior Sam Bates. Then, after senior Chaz Stobbs was hit by a pitch, Jaguar junior Zach Allen belted a ground-rule double to right field, driving in Packard to trim the Tigard lead to 2-1.

Century looked to be the verge of a very big inning, but, again, the Tigard defense came up huge.

With Stobbs on third base and one out in the frame, Century junior Josh Sundquist hit a fly ball to right field. Tigard junior right fielder Joe Lobbato caught the ball and, with Stobbs tagging up and trying to score, he fired strike to the plate and Tigard senior catcher Brittain Schneider tagged out Stobbs for another inning-ending double play.

“Joe’s throw was huge,” Bryant said.

Century threatened again in the fifth inning, putting a pair of runners on base with two outs in the frame, but Bryant got Packard to ground out to Rasor to end the inning. In the sixth inning, the Jaguars got a one-out single by Stobbs and a two-out single by senior Hunter Hall. But another groundout to Rasor ended that threat.

There were no such dramatics in the seventh inning. Bryant put the Jaguars down in order in the frame, with junior third baseman Jessie Bye cleaning fielding the first two grounders in the inning and Rasor making the final defensive play in the 2-1 victory.

“Our defense was awesome today,” Bryant said. “Shane made a great play up the middle. Our defense has been good all year.”

Bryant, in getting the complete-game victory, gave up one run on five hits while striking out three and walking three.

“I felt good out there,” he said.

Tigard, as a team, had three hits in the contest, one each by Chabreck, Biglow and Bruin Campbell, who also stole a base.

Senior Kyle Gilligan pitched a strong game for the Jaguars. In six innings of work, he gave up two runs on three hits while striking out two and walking none.

The Tigers are hoping that Friday’s victory will get them back on a winning track.

“I sure hope this gets us going again,” Biglow said. “Things happen, sometimes, but you can’t ever drop your head.”

“This should get us going again,” Bryant said. “If we keep playing the way we can, we’ll be back.”

Prior to Friday’s game, Tigard fell 3-2 to the Jaguars in a game played April 17 at Century High School. On Monday, Tigard won 10-6 over Newberg in the first game of a three-game league series played at Newberg High School.

The teams were slated to play the second game of their series Wednesday at Tigard High School. Results of that game weren’t available when The Times went to press.

The third game of the series is slated to be play Friday, starting at 5 p.m., at Newberg High School. On Tuesday, Tigard will travel to Forest Grove for the first game of a three-game series. The second game of the series will be played Wednesday at Tigard High School.

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