Forest Grove picks up a 4-1 victory behind a strong pitching performance from junior Andrew Thorud

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove sophomore C.J. Friedman slides safely back into first base on a pickoff attempt last Friday in a nonleague baseball game against Aloha. The Vikings won the game, 4-1. ALOHA — Forest Grove has not taken long to start finding its rhythm.

On the heels of a first-week blowout loss and then a blowout win, last Friday the Vikings baseball team started to define itself in the early goings of the season behind a standout pitching performance from Andrew Thorud against Aloha.

The junior right-hander showed fine form with a complete-game, one-run performance, and the Forest Grove bats provided him with enough offense to pull out a 4-1 nonleague win against the Warriors of the Metro League.

The victory upped Forest Grove’s record to 2-1 heading into its spring break tournament in Wilsonville. It also came after a couple of games that left the Vikings a bit difficult to read. The squad dropped its season opener at Putnam 16-0 last Tuesday before rebounding for a 15-4 victory against Franklin on Wednesday.

“We’re starting to play the way we know we can,” Forest Grove coach Kevin Tucker said. “All the time, we’re talking about just staying in the moment, one pitch at a time.

“That’s kind of our mentality, is to win every pitch. Today I think we did that.”

The Vikings indeed lived by that maxim on Friday, and winning some of those pitches early helped them win the game. Forest Grove set the tone before Thorud even took to the mound, scoring two runs in the top of the first. The Vikings picked up the first run by scoring on an error, and then Daniel Daughtry ripped a double to center field to bring home Cam Kemper.

“That’s one of our keys, is scoring first,” Tucker said. “We have this philosophy we call BASE 2, and every (letter) stands for a goal during the game. The S in base is to ‘score first,’ and that’s what we did.”

Thorud had little problem in working with that 2-0 lead, retiring the first eight Aloha batters he faced in order. In all, he struck out seven and scattered six hits, rarely allowing a Warriors runner to advance past second base.

“It was a good game,” Thorud said. “It was definitely one of my better ones, to make it through the whole game. I only gave up one run. It was good.”

Though Forest Grove put itself in the driver’s seat from the get-go, midway through the game the home side did pull a run back to tighten the contest and introduce just a little uncertainty.

In the bottom of the fourth, Aloha’s leadoff batter knocked a double to left field, and a sacrifice RBI brought him home two at-bats later to halve the visitors’ lead to 2-1.

But that was the only damage the Warriors could do, and the Vikings answered in the next inning, manufacturing some runs out of Aloha pitching miscues. In fact, Forest Grove’s first two batters reached base due to two walks — one of whom was then picked off at first base — and then the third was hit by a pitch.

After a fielder’s choice groundout, Daughtry was walked to load the bases and then Andrew Siemiller ripped a clutch hit that drove in two runs to double the Vikings’ tallies on the scoreboard. And though Siemiller was caught between second and third base and tagged out after the scores, ending the inning, he sent the momentum back to the Forest Grove dugout.

“We’re answering back,” said Siemiller, a senior center fielder. “If they score something, we come back and make sure we get our points back.”

The insurance runs also gave Thorud more than enough to work with. Showing poise in the bottom half of the inning, with runners sitting on second and third, he picked up two outs, including a strikeout, to end the threat.

And after allowing Aloha’s leadoff hitters in the sixth and seventh innings to reach base, he retired the next three batters in order. Of course, in the seventh, that ended the game, sending the Vikings off as winners to end the week.

“I felt good the whole way through,” Thorud said. “We’ve been doing a lot of arm care stuff with bands ... to build our shoulder and elbow, and it helps with maintaining your stamina ... so that helped a lot.

“Since I had quick innings, I didn’t throw that many pitches.”

Forest Grove continued nonleague play this week with the Wilsonville tournament. Results of that competition, which continues through today, were not available at press deadline.

Forest Grove rounds out its nonleague schedule next week, playing at David Douglas on Monday before hosting Reynolds on Tuesday and Southridge on Friday.

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