TIGARD — They're young.
They don't have much experience.
But they didn't get down, and they got a dramatic win to show for it.
The youthful Tigard Longhorns of the Oregon Independent Baseball Association opened Pesky Division play by rallying to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to get a 4-3 win over Gladstone in a game played Monday at Tigard High School.
"That was pretty good," said Fletcher Ahl, a current Tigard sophomore, who ended the game with a walk-off three-run double in the bottom of the seventh. "It was a good combination of everything. We didn't take advantage of all the opportunities that we had, but we got it done when we had to."
"It was pretty good," said Tigard junior Manny Andrade, who turned in a complete-game pitching performance. "It was a little bit of a struggle at the end, but we came back and we got the win."
With the victory, Tigard not only got off to a 1-0 start in Pesky Division play, but the Longhorns also upped their overall summer record to 4-2.
"We've got a lot of young guys, so we're looking to get some experience this summer," Ahl said. "We're looking to get a lot of at-bats."
Andrade and Gladstone's Derek Lee locked up in a pitchers' duel early in Monday's game, with neither team being able to score in the first couple of innings. The Longhorns did threaten in the bottom of the second, getting singles from both Joey Cavalli and Ben Barbee in the frame, although they wouldn't be able to capitalize.
However, Tigard wouldn't be denied in the bottom of the third.
Andrade got things going with a one-out single to center field. Tigard sophomore C.J. Rivers followed with a single to center field, with Andrade moving to second on the hit.
One out later, junior Micah O'Donnell walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Ahl, up next for the Longhorns, faced an early 0-2 count in his at-bat, but he battled back to also walk on a 3-2 pitch, bringing in Andrade with the game's first run, giving Tigard a 1-0 lead.
The Longhorns, behind the Andrade's pitching, and some strong infield defense, including some key plays by freshman third baseman Ty Penn, carried their 1-0 lead to the seventh inning.
But that's when things got very interesting.
Austin Conner led off the top of the seventh inning for Gladstone with an infield single. Matthew Coon followed with a bunt single, with Conner moving up to second base on the play. Both runners then moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Myers. Conner then scored on a groundout by Ben McCoy, tying the game at 1-1.
Coon then scored on a single by Matthew Bierbach, giving the Gladiators a 2-1 lead. Damian Alvarado kept things going with an RBI double to right field, plating Bierbach, upping the Gladiator lead to 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh.
But that didn't seem to bother the Longhorns.
"We knew we could get the comeback," Ahl said. "We never doubted ourselves."
"We just had to come back and take the lead back," Andrade said. "We knew we could battle back."
Andrade, leading off the bottom of the seventh inning, reached first base on a Gladstone error. Rivers then walked on four pitches. Sophomore Lance Kreisberg followed with a line-drive single to left field, loading the bases with no outs.
One out later, with the bases still loaded and Tigard still trailing 3-1, Ahl stepped to the plate.
"I just didn't want to hit into a double play," Ahl said with a smile.
Instead, Ahl ripped a line drive into the gap in left-center field — and the ball just kept going after it bounded past the Gladstone outfielders.
"It felt good off the bat," Ahl said. "And, with the turf, I knew it would keep rolling. And it was great hustle by our guys on base."
Andrade, Rivers and Kreisberg all came around to score on the hit, giving the Longhorns a 4-3 victory, leading Ahl to be mobbed by his teammates following his walk-off double.
"That felt great," he said.
The Longhorns, as a team, had seven hits in the victory. Kreisberg went 2 for 4 at the plate with a run scored. Ahl went 1 for 1 with a double while also driving in all four Tigard runs. Andrade, Rivers, Cavalli and Barbee each had one hit.
Andrade, in getting the pitching win, gave up three runs (two earned) on eight hits, while walking three and striking out two.
"I felt great out there," he said.
For Gladstone, Alvarado and Otis Lundgren each went 2 for 3 at the plate.
On Tuesday, the Longhorns lost 13-8 at Oregon City in a non-league game. Ahl, Kreisberg and Rivers each drove in a pair of runs in that game. Sam Gerkman scored three times.
Tigard was scheduled to host Sherwood on Wednesday. Results of that game weren't available when the Times went to press.
The Longhorns will be back in action on Sunday, when they at Reynolds in a doubleheader starting at noon. On Wednesday, Tigard will host McMinnville in a game starting at 5:30 p.m.