May 04, 2001 11:00 pm
SAFE AT SECOND: La Grande's Preston Roe slides into second base ahead of the ball during Friday's doubleheader against Vale. (The Observer/C.J. GISH).
SAFE AT SECOND: La Grande's Preston Roe slides into second base ahead of the ball during Friday's doubleheader against Vale. (The Observer/C.J. GISH).

By The Observer

Vale gave La Grande all it could handle Friday, but in the end it was the Tigers who moved into a two-way tie for second place in the Greater Oregon League.

La Grande overcame deficits in both ends of its home doubleheader, but ended with 9-6 and 11-9 victories.

These were big wins for us, La Grande coach Dennis Young said. Right now everything is a big ball game till the end of the season.

The opening contest was indicative of the twin bill. Vale grabbed leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the opening innings, but La Grande rallied behind a four-run frame in the bottom of the third inning.

(Vale) came out and hit the ball well, but our kids came back and didnt panic, Young said.

The Tigers (13-9 overall, 7-3 league) added two more runs in the fourth inning for a 7-3 lead, but Vale came back with three runs off six hits in the fifth.

Aaron Thomas knocked out a double that was misplayed by Vales left fielder in the bottom of the sixth, leading to Preston Roe scoring. Thomas scored two batters later when Drew Fischer hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field for a 9-6 edge.

In the final inning, Vales leadoff hitter popped out to left field, but its second batter got to first base safely on a Tiger error. The next batter hit the ball to Fischer, who relayed it to second base for the out. The relay to first base wasnt in time, but both Vale runners were called out, however, to end the game.

That was a runner interference call, Young said of Vales runner who was forced out at second base. You cant slide through the bag, you can only slide to it (to break up the double play).

Thomas led La Grande with three hits in the opener. Fischer, Roe and Tanner Mellinger added two hits apiece. Tanner Abel had three RBIs and Fischer added two.

Kyle Ingerson went the distance on the mound and improved his team-leading record to 6-3, despite five La Grandes defense committing five errors behind him.

Kyle stuck it out even though we had to battle through errors, Young said.

The middle of La Grandes lineup paved the way for the Tigers in the second game, led by Rob Searles 3-for-4 performance.

Searles, batting seventh, hit a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning to close within 9-6. He belted a two-run single in the sixth inning for the go-ahead runs.

Rob had an outstanding game. Hes worked hard all season, s Im really pleased for him, Young said.

Searles had five RBIs in the contest.

Andy Van Sickle, batting fifth, and Zach Glasser, hitting sixth, came through, too. The two had two hits apiece and combined with Searles to tally seven of La Grandes 11 hits.

Thomas, picking up his second win of the season on the mound, entered the game in a tight situation in the top of the fifth inning.

He came in with the bases loaded and no outs, Young said. He gave up a double that scored three runs and there was an error that led to another score.

Vale went ahead 9-4 after its half of the fifth inning before the Tigers scored two runs in the bottom of the frame and added five more runs in the sixth.

Thomas did his part by retiring three straight Vikings in the sixth inning. In the seventh, Vales leadoff hitter advanced to first base safely off a La Grande error, followed by a force out on the next batter. Thomas struck out the final two Vikings batters to end the game.

La Grande travels to Ontario for a GOL doubleheader next Saturday.

Vale 201 030 0 6 13 4

La Grande 104 202 x 9 11 5

Brown and Cockran; Ingerson and Slover. WP Ingerson (6-3). LP Brown.

La Grande hits Thomas 3, Roe 2, Fischer 2, Mellinger 2, Van Sickle, Kleck. 2B Thomas. 3B Thomas, Mellinger. RBI Abel 3, Fischer 2, Roe, Thomas, Van Sickle, Smith. SB Roe.

Vale 040 050 0 9 8 5

La Grande 040 025 x 11 12 3

Amick, Brown (6) and Cockran; Royal, Kleck (5), Thomas (5) and Slover. WP Thomas (2-1). LP Brown.

La Grande hits Searles 3, Van Sickle 2, Glasser 2, Slover, Fischer, Roe, Thomas, Abe. 2B Roe, Searles, Abel. RBI Searles 5, Fischer 2, Abel, Van Sickle, Thomas. SB Thomas, Fischer, Van Sickle, Kleck.