Lakeridge baseball can't hold on, falls to Tigard 5-3
The Lakeridge baseball team had Tigard right where it wanted it.
The Pacers, hosting the Tigers in the second game of the 2019 Three Rivers League season on Wednesday, April 3, led Tigard 3-2 heading into the seventh inning and had already stranded eight Tiger baserunners in the game.
But Tigard tied the game in the seventh inning, then took advantage of an error, a hit batter, three walks and an RBI groundout to score twice in the top of the eighth and beat Lakeridge 5-3 at Lakeridge High School.
"If you look up on the scoreboard where it says four errors — our big thing is defense," said Lakeridge junior pitcher/first baseman John Taylor, who threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and no walks while striking out five. "We can't have those miscues in a long game, late in the game. We've just got to learn from it and get better."
"We didn't capitalize (on our chances) throughout the entire game," added junior shortstop/pitcher Cameron Clayton, who went 1 for 3 at the plate, drove in one run and scored once. "We didn't throw a lot of strikes towards the end and made a lot of errors and that can really get to you."
The loss snapped the Pacers' four-game winning streak and dropped their TRL record to 1-1 and their overall mark to 7-2. Tigard, meanwhile, won for the third time in its past five games and moved to 1-1 in TRL play and 5-4 overall.
As painful as Wednesday's loss was, it marked a rare departure from the success that Lakeridge has built thus far in 2019, its first season under new head coach D.J. Whittemore. The 2018 Pacers went just 2-15 in TRL play and 4-22 overall.
"Coach Whittemore has just been a complete change for this program. If I could credit it to anything, it would be that," Clayton said. "I love coming into a season expecting to win, expecting to make plays, expecting to hit and counting on each and every one of my nine guys to just pound the ball."
"The main difference I see between us this year and last year — it's not size or strength or skill — it's playing together," Taylor said. "We rally hits one after another and we credit that to everyone and Coach Whittemore. We want it."
The Pacers — who beat Tigard 3-2 in their April 2 TRL opener — grabbed the upper hand in the first inning April 3, getting a two-out walk by Taylor and an RBI double to left-center field from Clayton to make it 1-0. Next hitter Hayden Moore then grounded to short, and when Tigard's Ethan Clark couldn't make the play, Clayton came home for a 2-0 lead.
"I just got under it. I almost had it," Clayton said of his double. "(Tigard pitcher Lance Kreisberg) was sitting curveball a lot, but he threw me one middle-in and I just jumped on it."
After Taylor pitched a shutout second inning, the Pacers tacked on their third run in the bottom half of the frame. Junior Brian Hamlin reached base after being hit by a pitch, took second on a wild pitch, then scored on Spencer Santana's infield hit.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard in the top of the third, loading the bases with no outs on one hit and back-to-back Lakeridge errors. But Tigard scored just once in the frame, getting an RBI grounder from C.J. Rivers before Taylor got consecutive groundouts to end the threat.
The Tigers then edged within one run in the fourth inning, getting a leadoff homer to center field from Fletcher Ahl that cut the Pacer lead to 3-2.
And that is where the score stayed for the next 2 1/2 innings. The Pacers managed just one baserunner in their next three at-bats, while Clayton — on in relief of Taylor — stranded three Tigard runners in the fifth.
But Lakeridge's good fortune ended in the seventh, with the Tigers getting back-to-back hits, first off Clayton and then Santana. Then, after Clayton turned a double play at shortstop, Tigard's Cameron Laroche singled to right to plate Stinson and tie the contest at 3-3.
After Lakeridge came up empty in its half of the seventh — Colin Hardy walked but was thrown out on an attempted steal and Hamlin was stranded — Tigard stepped up to win the game in the eighth.
C.J. Hilgaertner reached base on an error with one out, Santana hit Sam Gerkman and then issued back-to-back walks that forced Hilgaertner home with the go-ahead run. Moore came on in relief next, but Rivers notched an RBI groundout to give his team a 5-3 lead.
In its final at-bat, facing Tigard reliever Bobby Carter, Lakeridge's Spencer Gore drew a one-out walk, but saw Carter get both Taylor and Clayton on consecutive fly balls to end the game.
For the game, the Pacers managed just two hits, five walks and two hit batters while striking out eight times against Kreisberg and Carter. For Tigard, Rivers went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and Ahl was 2 for 3 with a double and a homer.
Up next, Lakeridge plays at Tigard at 5 p.m. Friday.