Tigers feast on cheese
La Grande cruises past Tillamook in state play-in game off Tyson Wicklander’s surprise pitching heroics
After only pitching 11 innings all season, Tyson Wicklander was shocked when head coach Parker McKinley told him he would start La Grande’s play-in game against Tillamook.
“I showed up a little bit early to the game today, and Parker said you’re on the bump today,” Wicklander said. “I thought he was joking then he said, ‘No I’m serious, you’re on the mound.’”
With La Grande having its last three seasons ending with a loss in its postseason opener, Wicklander exorcised the Tigers’ demons, throwing nine strikeouts in a 6-1 win at Pioneer Park.
Wicklander gobbled up the Cheesemakers right from the start, striking out four in the first two innings. He was also four outs away from a no-hitter, and did not give up a run until the final inning. McKinley said ace pitcher Trenton Powers was ready to step up in relief if necessary, but decided to let Wicklander finish out the game even after he loaded the bases with no outs in the final inning.
“It was just one of those decisions where I had a good feeling Tyson could do well for us today, and I decided to go with that feeling,” McKinley said on his decision to hand Wicklander his third start of the season. “He’s as competitive as it gets mentally.”
Eli Wisdom opened up the scoring for the Tigers in the second inning, hitting a line drive into center field that sent Tanner Stremcha and Drew Hively home.
“He (Tillamook pitcher Matt Strang) threw me two fastballs away, so I figured on the next pitch he’d slow it down and go down the middle,” Wisdom said on how he approached his first at-bat. “Having my teammates on base really got my excitement going, I got the pitch I expected and let loose.”
With the Tigers kicking their recent habit of struggling to score runs early in games, Hively gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead later in the inning with a RBI double into left field to score Jared Rogers.