NO EASY THING
By Pat Perkins
Observer Staff Writer
Getting to the state playoffs was as difficult Wednesday for the La Grande Tigers as making a routine play was for McLoughlin in the seventh inning.
The Pioneers made two critical errors in the seventh inning of Wednesdays second game. The first let La Grande tie the game and the second gave the Tigers a 7-6 victory and a berth in the Class 3A state playoffs.
We dont do anything easy, La Grande coach Dennis Young said. We seem to make everything a bit exciting. The kids seem to thrive on pressure.
La Grande (15-11 overall, 9-5 Greater Oregon League) needed to beat Mac-Hi twice to get the leagues third playoff spot. The Tigers handled the Pioneers easily in the first game, winning 8-3, but found themselves down 6-3 going into the bottom of the seventh.
Jason Smith led off with a pinch-hit single, followed by walks to Tanner Mellinger and Preston Roe. Aaron Thomas struck out, then Tanner Abel singled home Smith.
Drew Fischer hit a routine grounder to second baseman James Charlo, but Charlos short throw to first was wide. Mellinger scored on the grounder, and Roe scored on the error to tie the game, with Abel moving to third.
Andy Van Sickle grounded out before Zach Glasser walked to load the bases. Rob Searles then hit a fly ball to right field, where right fielder Kelly Castles drifted to his left but had the ball bounce out of his glove.
Abel walked home and stepped on home plate. The Tigers stepped into the playoffs.
This was pretty indicative of the season and the kids, Young said. This team didnt want the seniors season to end.
La Grande never led until the end. Mac-Hi took a 3-0 lead after three innings. Grounders by Shane Slover and Mellinger scored two runs in the fourth inning. Mac-Hi took a 4-2 lead in the sixth, then a grounder by Adam Kleck scored La Grandes third run in the bottom of the frame.
Glasser went 2-for-3 for La Grande. Thomas got the win after relieving starter Corey Royal in the top of the seventh.
Kyle Ingerson got his seventh win of the season in the first game, striking out four. The Tigers gave him a 4-0 lead after the first and a 6-1 lead through two innings.
Mellinger had a two-run triple in the first inning, and Thomas, Abel, Fischer and Kleck each had two hits.
La Grande opens the playoffs Tuesday on the road at the Tri-Valley Leagues second-seeded team. The Tri-Valley League has a seeding playoff, and LaSalle beat Sherwood 2-1 Wednesday.
LaSalle will play Wilsonville Friday.
McLoughlin 010 010 1 3 8 4
La Grande 420 020 x 8 9 3
Castles and Strickland; Ingerson and Slover. WP Ingerson (7-3). LP Castles.
McLoughlin hits Propeck, Strickland 3, Charlo 3, Castles. 2B Charlo. RBI Strickland, Charlo.
La Grande hits Thomas 2, Abel 2, Fischer 2, Kleck 2, Mellinger. 2B Abel. 3B Fischer, Mellinger. RBI Abel, Fischer, Van Sickle, Kleck, Mellinger 2. SB Thomas.
McLoughlin 102 001 2 6 8 3
La Grande 000 201 4 7 8 1
Two out when winning run scored.
Birdsell and Strickland; Royal, Thomas (7) and Slover. WP Thomas (3-1). LP Birdsell.
McLoughlin hits Propeck, Birdsell 2, Strickland 2, Wilson, Castles, Stallings. 2B Propeck. RBI Strickland 2, Castles, Stallings.
La Grande hits Roe, Abel, Fischer, Van Sickle, Glasser 2, Smith, Mellinger. 2B Glasser. RBI Abel, Glasser, Mellinger, Slover, Fischer.