April 02, 2002 11:00 pm

BAKER CITY The La Grande Tigers didnt have much time to recover from spring break.

The softball team dropped a pair of Greater Oregon League games Tuesday to the Baker Bulldogs, both of them close and both winnable for the defending GOL champions.

Considering the layoff and having more than half my team gone during spring break, I knew it was going to be very tough coming out and getting these first two games, La Grande coach Nicole Christian said.

La Grande lost the first game of the doubleheader 3-1, then fell 7-6 in eight innings in the second game.

The reasons for the losses were different for each game. In the first game, La Grande (1-6) left 11 runners on base. In the second game, the Tigers made seven errors.

That first game, Baker made the mistakes, Christian said. We had the chances; we just didnt execute. There were a couple times where we had runners on one and we couldnt lay down the bunt to move them over.

La Grandes lone run came in the first inning when Lauren Sternfelds sacrifice fly brought home Megan Henderson.

Baker tied the game with an unearned run in the fifth and won it in the sixth with two more runs.

La Grande also had just four hits in the first game, but the Tigers improved that stat in the second game with 11 hits. Kandis Wallace and Heather Hampton both went 2-for-4.

I was happy with how they did. We havent been hitting the ball very well. We got some base hits going, Christian said.

La Grande opened a 4-0 lead after its half of the second inning. A triple by Kylee Lanman scored two runs, and Lanman later scored on an error. Henderson drove in another run.

But La Grandes defense gave it all up. Three errors in the bottom of the second led to four Baker runs.

Des McCoy singled home a run in the fourth, but a Tiger error in Bakers half of the inning allowed the Bulldogs to tie the game again.

Sternfeld scored on an error in the fifth, but another La Grande error let Baker tie the game in the sixth.

Finally in the eighth inning, Baker strung together some hits and won the game.

We came out huge in an inning and got four runs, and then we turned around and had two huge errors with two outs and let them score some runs, Christian said. Thats where weve got to go back to fundamentals.

La Grande continues the GOL season Saturday against Riverside at Boardman.

La Grande 100 000 0 1 4 2

Baker 000 012 x 3 5 3

Caldwell, Marcum (6) and Henderson; Curtis and Craig. WP Curtis. LP Caldwell.

La Grande hits Henderson, McCoy, Marcum, Sternfeld. RBI Sternfeld.

La Grande 040 110 00 6 11 7

Baker 040 101 01 7 9 5

Marcum, Caldwell (5) and Henderson; Barker and Brookshire, Craig (5). WP Barker. LP Caldwell.

La Grande hits Henderson, McCoy, Marcum, Sternfeld, Wallace 2, Hampton 2, Tams, Lanman, Long. 2B Wallace. RBI McCoy, Sternfeld, Tams, Lanman 2. SB Long.

From Observer staff reports