Tigard baseball counterpunches to 5-4 win over West Linn
The West Linn baseball team struck first on Friday.
Then Tigard struck back.
In the end, however, the Tigers' counterpunch carried the day, with Tigard surviving a late Lion rally to win 5-4 at West Linn High School.
"We had so much energy toward the end of the game, I just wish we could have gone the entire game feeling that way," said West Linn junior third baseman Zach Bell, who went 1 for 3 with a home run and one RBI. "It's a completely different ballgame if that happens."
Teammate Griffin Banta, the Lions' senior left fielder, agreed that West Linn's energy level was the story of the game.
"I would just say we definitely need to start with more energy in general (and) keep that going the entire game," said Banta, who went 1 for 3 with a triple, two walks and two runs scored. "We just need to keep that going the entire seven."
With the loss, West Linn saw its four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 6-2 and a second-place tie in the Three Rivers League (10-6 overall). Tigard, meanwhile, won for the first time in three TRL games and moved to 4-4 and a tie for fourth place in the TRL (11-6 overall).
The day's two starting pitchers — West Linn senior righty Zach Anderson and Tigard junior lefthander Sam Gerkman — both held sway early in the game. While Anderson kept the Tigers off the scoreboard until the fourth inning, the Lions broke through in the second when Banta tripled to right field with two outs and scored two batters later when Tigard catcher Joey Cavalli's attempted pick-off throw went astray.
Tigard, after managing just two baserunners in the game's first two innings, pushed across two runs to grab a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning. Lance Kreisberg led off with a single up the middle, Micah O'Donnell followed with a one-out infield hit, and after both runners moved up on a groundout, Ethan Clark singled to center field to score both runners and give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers pushed their lead to 3-1 in the fifth when Cavalli walked and later scored on a Kreisberg sacrifice fly. Then, in the top of the sixth, O'Donnell walked and Michael Quintana singled to chase Anderson from the game, and Clark greeted reliever J.J. Hoover with a single to center field that scored both runners to give his team a 5-1 lead.
Hoover escaped more trouble with three straight outs to end the fifth, and the Lions finally re-ignited their offense in the bottom of the inning. There, facing Kreisberg in relief, Bell kicked things off with a solo homer to left field, Drew Vannaman and James Marshall added one-out walks, and senior catcher Micah Gibson followed with a two-run single to right that cut his team's deficit to 5-4.
"Once I got up to bat and actually got a solid hit, the home run, everybody got energy, everybody got into the game and that's when we really started to pick things up and do good," Bell said.
Then, with runners at first and third and the game on the line, next batter Hoover appeared to ground out to third to end the threat.
But the home plate umpire made a catcher interference call against Tigard, awarded Hoover first base and gave West Linn senior Garrett Marioni a two-out shot with the bases loaded. Kreisberg answered the challenge, though, getting Marioni on a fly ball to left, then pitched a perfect seventh to win the game.
"We left (runners on base) a lot," Banta said. "In the past, we had a little problem with that and we are starting to backtrack a little bit so we need to get back where we need to be. If we do that, I think we'll be winning these games."
For the game, Anderson pitched his team into the sixth inning, allowing six hits, two walks and one hit batter while striking out none. Gibson led West Linn at the plate, going 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
For Tigard, Gerkman pitched five innings, allowing three hits, five walks and one hit batter while striking out one. At the plate, Clark went 2 for 4 with four RBIs and Kreisberg was 2 for 3.