Tualatin strikes back to top Tigard
TUALATIN — Determination.
After falling to Tigard by a 5-3 score in the opening game of the rivals' three-game Three Rivers League series, the Tualatin High School baseball team was determined — very determined — to answer back.
And, thanks to a big fifth-inning hitting performance, the Timberwolves did just that.
Tualatin, smacking four doubles and scoring three runs in the frame, got a 5-2 win over the Tigers in the league game played Wednesday at Tualatin High School, tying the series at 1-1 going into Friday's third game.
"This was really important, not only for us mentally, but standings-wise, too," said Tualatin senior shortstop Kyle Dernedde, who had a pair of doubles in the win. "I think we came to play today. We didn't necessarily beat ourselves yesterday, they played really well, but we came to play more today. We played better defense and had better at-bats today."
"This changed our whole morale," said Tualatin senior Cameron Atkinson, who turned in a complete-game pitching performance. "I feel like we were pretty down, but coming back and getting this game changes our whole mentality. We needed to tie the series, now we need to keep momentum and go for the sweep on Friday."
With the victory, Tualatin improved to 8-6 in TRL play (15-7 overall), putting the Wolves in fourth place in the league standings.
"These games are good," Dernedde said. "Every series in this league is so competitive. It's a battle every game. You can't sleep. You have to come to play every week, and that makes it a lot of fun."
"These are big games," Atkinson said. "They're very important. We really want to win the series, and, hopefully, we'll get it on Friday."
Tigard moved to 9-5 in TRL games (14-9 overall), putting the Tigers in a tie with Lake Oswego for second place in the league standings.
"It didn't go as well as we expected, obviously, with the result of the game," said Tigard senior C.J. Rivers, who accounted for both of the Tigers' runs with a pair of solo home runs. "We didn't have a lot of good at-bats, and didn't make the adjustments that we needed to make to really seal this game up."
Tigard grabbed the early lead in Wednesday's second game of the series. Rivers, who capped off the scoring in the Tigers' 5-3 win on May 7 with a solo home run, opened the scoring with a two-out solo home run, his fifth of the season, in the top of the first inning.
Tualatin answered back with a run in the bottom of the opening frame. Dernedde got things going for the Wolves with a leadoff double to left field. Dernedde moved to third on a single by freshman Griffin Biggs and then scored, tying the game at 1-1, when Tigard turned a double play on a grounder by junior Blake Jackson.
The rivals stayed tied at 1-1 until the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Wolves got their parade of doubles going. Atkinson ignited the big inning with a leadoff double to left-center field. Atkinson would be thrown out at third by Tigard senior catcher Caden Stinson following a wild pitch on strike three to junior Campbell Clarke, but he had already set the tone for the inning.
Dernedde followed with a double to right-center field, driving in Clarke to give Tualatin a 2-1 lead. One out later, senior Cameron Springer doubled to left field, plating Dernedde. Jackson then doubled to center field, bringing in Springer to make the score 4-1.
"I guess I kind of got it started, then we kept it going," Atkinson said of the big inning.
"That was good," Dernedde said. "We saw the ball, and we were able to trade places with each other. That helped us a lot to get those extra runs."
Tigard cut the lead to 4-2 in the top of the sixth on another home run by Rivers, this one clearing the fence in right-center field.
But, the Wolves answered back in the bottom of the frame. Dernedde drew a two-out walk. He moved to second when Biggs was hit by a pitch and the scored on Springer's single to left field, upping the margin to 5-2.
Tigard got a leadoff single by junior Ethan Clark in the top of the seventh, but Atkinson put the next three batters down in order to wrap up the win for the Wolves.
"It was just confidence from our guys, which was good," Atkinson said. "Coming from that last game, beating them gives us a long of confidence."
Atkinson, in getting the complete-game pitching win, gave up two runs on five hits, while striking out three and walking one.
"I felt confident," he said. "Pretty much everything was working. Just those two home runs, those got me. Other than that, it was pretty good."
Dernedde helped lead the offensive attack, going 2 for 3 at the plate with two doubles, a walk, three runs scored and one RBI. Springer went 2 for 3 with a double, a run scored and two RBIs. Atkinson went 2 for 3.
For Tigard, Rivers went 2 for 3 with a pair of home runs. Senior Fletcher Ahl, senior Cameron Laroche and Clark had a hit apiece for the Tigers.
"We came out strong, got a run, and then got a run back. But I think the energy just died in the dugout, and that's something that we really need to work on," Rivers said. "We're going to make our adjustments in practice, and work on hitting those off-speed pitches."
The teams will finish their series on Friday with a 4:30 p.m. game at Tigard High School.
"Given the situation, it's really intense," Rivers said. "Friday's game is really big, getting out there and trying to seal up the series. Getting a series victory against our rivals is really important to us."
"Friday's game is going to be really big for both teams," Dernedde said. "It's going to be a battle and a lot of fun."
On Monday, Tualatin will host West Linn at 5 p.m. and Tigard will play at Lake Oswego at 5:30 p.m. in opening games of three-game series.