Tualatin tips Tigard in 10-inning thriller
TUALATIN — It was a battle that lasted 10 innings.
There were a lot of big hits, big pitches and big defensive plays in the clash between the rivals.
Big, Big, Big.
But, in the end, just a few tiny inches may have made the difference.
Sophomore Blake Jackson's walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning, with the ball landing just inches inside the left-field foul line, gave the Tualatin High School baseball team a thrilling, come-from-behind, 5-4 win over rival Tigard in a Three Rivers League contest played Tuesday at Tualatin High School.
"Oh, I was watching," a smiling Jackson said of his game-winning hit. "It was probably just a few inches (fair). It was really close. I was rounding the bases, jumping up and down, and I saw my team coming out to get me. I can't explain it — it felt amazing."
"It was incredible," said Tualatin senior Ryan Webb, who picked up the pitching win in relief, while also scoring the winning run. "The competition is expected between these two teams every time we face each other. We've been getting ready for it all week. We were ready to face these guys. They bring a lot of fire and a lot of skill to the field. They put up a hell of a fight."
With the victory, Tualatin improved to 8-4 in TRL play (13-6 overall), putting the Timberwolves in a tie with Sherwood for fourth place in the league standings, two-games behind first-place Lake Oswego.
"Oh, this is huge," Jackson said of the win. "We're still trying to win league and if we would have lost, that wouldn't have happened. We're trying to win out."
Tigard moved to 7-5 in TRL games (14-7 overall) with the setback.
"It was a very hard-fought game," said Tigard junior C.J. Rivers, who pitched seven strong innings in addition to having three hits in the contest. "You have to tip your cap to the other team, they played a great game. They fought through it all the way. We just can't let up. We have to keep at it the entire game. We just have to keep pounding and pounding and grinding. I think we just kind of let off the gas a little bit when we got the lead."
Tigard took a quick 1-0 lead in Tuesday's clash, getting a run in the top of the first inning. Tiger senior leadoff hitter Nick Heinke hit the first pitch of the contest into left-center field for a double. He ended up scoring the game's first run on Rivers' two-out single to center.
The Tigers struck again in the top of the third inning. Heinke, leading off again, was hit by a pitch. Sophomore Fletcher Ahl then drew a walk. One out later, Rivers laced a single to right field, driving in Heinke. Ahl also scored on a Tualatin throwing error on the play, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Tigard scored again in the top of the fourth. Senior Micah O'Donnell hit a first-pitch leadoff double down the right-field line. He would eventually score from third on a groundout by Ahl, upping the margin to 4-0.
But that didn't deter the Wolves.
"I had a lot of faith in our team," Webb said. "We've been able to score a lot of runs this year, and put them up quick. We just needed our guys to hit like they can, and it came around."
Tualatin started its rally in the bottom of the fifth inning. Senior Sean Chamberlin reached base on a fielder's choice grounder and senior Danny Shell drew a two-out walk. They both ended up scoring on senior Colby Jackson's triple to right field, trimming the Tigard lead to 4-2.
The Wolves then tied things up with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Cameron Springer scored on a groundout by junior Gavin Moore and Chamberlin tripled in senior Chris Freese, knotting the game up at 4-4.
Tigard threatened in the top of the seventh, getting back-to-back two-out singles by Rivers and Michael Quintana, but the Tigers couldn't capitalize. A Tualatin double play ended another Tigard threat in the top of the ninth.
Going into the bottom of the 10th, with the game still tied at 4-4, Webb, leading off the frame, hit a first-pitch single to right field.
"(Tualatin head coach Jake) Austin came over, and told me that they've been noticing that they were throwing a lot of first-pitch fastballs, so get ready for it, and I was ready," Webb said.
Webb then moved to second base on a Tigard error on a pickoff play. One out later, and after senior Cole Kinman drew a walk, Blake Jackson came through, doubling down the left-field line, bringing in Webb for the game-winning run.
"I choked a few innings earlier, so I was ready to come in," Jackson said. "I knew I was going to hit something hard, whether it was going to be caught, or be a walk-off, I knew it was going to be me."
"It's just an incredible feeling being out there on second, waiting for one of your guys to hit you in," Webb said. "You have faith in all of your guys. He gets up and hits it down the line, and you're not sure if it's going to be fair or foul. It was very close. As soon as he called fair, it was just a tremendous feeling. The guys were there to greet you at home, it's crazy."
Shell pitched the first eight-and-a-third innings for the Wolves in the win. He gave up four runs on nine hits, while striking out three and walking two. Webb threw the final one-and-two-thirds innings, retiring all five batters he faced.
Tualatin had nine hits in the contest. Chamberlin went 3 for 4 at the plate. Shell, Webb, Colby Jackson, Blake Jackson, Kinman and Freese added one hit apiece.
"It's always a rivalry, Tualatin and Tigard, and it's great to come out with a win," Blake Jackson said.
For Tigard, Rivers pitched the first seven innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits, while striking out six and walking three. He also went 3 for 5 at the plate, with a pair of RBIs.
"I was really fighting for this one," Rivers said. "I wanted to show up against these guys and play like, in my mind, I can compete with anyone."
Quintana went 2 for 4 at the plate. Heinke, Ahl, junior Caden Stinson and O'Donnell added one hit apiece for the Tigers.
The teams will play the second game of their three-game series Wednesday, starting at 4:30 p.m., at Tigard High School. The series will end Friday with a 5 p.m. contest back at Tualatin.
"It's going to be two more great games," Blake Jackson said.
Of course, you always want to beat these guys, but sometimes it doesn't go your way," Rivers said. "We have to get to the grindstone tomorrow and get after it. We have to play defense, keep hitting and pitching like we know how."