April 01, 2003 11:00 pm

HERMISTON — The La Grande Tigers gave No. 8-ranked Hermiston Bulldogs all they could handle in a single non-league baseball game Tuesday.

Hermiston scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth, and it was enough to keep the Tigers at bay for a 4-3 win.

"Unfortunately, you know, that happened," La Grande coach Dennis Young said.

"It's just part of the way the ball bounces sometimes."

Brenton Dowdy homered for the Tigers to tie the game in the top of the fifth. Dowdy also had two RBIs for the game.

"I thought the boys played real well tonight," Young said. "They're continuing to improve their play in the field.

"They're keeping real good attitudes. They're real upbeat, and that really pleases me with their performance tonight."

T.J. Frye pitched five innings before Derek Moore came in for the final two innings for the Tigers.

"I'm just bringing (Frye) along slowly," Young said. "He could have thrown some more. We're looking further into the season and want to have everybody be strong and healthy.

"Derek Moore came in and threw well also. We had a couple miscues. T.J. threw real well, again it was another good performance."

The Tigers (1-7 overall) have seen tough competition so far in preseason and that bodes well for the Greater Oregon League, he added.

"Sometimes that's good, you know," Young said. "They know what to expect."

Young said the GOL will be surprised with the Tigers this season.

"We're just polishing up some defensive work, and we're going to be there," he said.

The Tigers host Pendleton in a single game at 3 p.m. Thursday at Optimist Field. They open GOL play at home against McLoughlin April 10.

La Grande 001 020 0 — 3 4 3

Hermiston 201 001 x — 4 6 1

Frye, D. Moore (6) and K. Moore; Barnett, Corollo (3), Lindley (4), Falconer (5), Skogley (6) and Henderson.

La Grande hits — George, Dowdy, D. Moore, Turner. HR — Dowdy. RBI — Dowdy 2.