OUCH! BASEBALL TIGERS' HEARTS BROKEN TWICE

April 25, 2003 11:00 pm

BOARDMAN — The La Grande baseball boys couldn't have played two more divergent games Friday.

But, they did have one thing in common — they were both heartbreakers.

The Tigers lost to Riverside 6-4 and 9-8. They lost that first game on a two-out seventh-inning game-ending grand slam home run, and lost the second game after rallying from a seemingly hopeless 9-1 hole.

Coach Dennis Young couldn't have been more proud of his kids for scratching and clawing back in the second game and not giving up, especially after losing the first game in such a dramatic fashion.

"As a coach, you're never pleased with a loss. But, I was very pleased with their (the players') performance. To a player, they all contributed. They showed a lot of mental toughness," Young said.

The losses puts La Grande at 2-2 in Greater Oregon League play (3-11 overall).

In the first game, Riverside took a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning, but La Grande rallied for three runs in the sixth, with Travis Turner's two-run single doing most of the damage.

In the top of the seventh, Kelly Moore added an insurance run with a solo home run to make it 4-1.

In the bottom of the seventh, lead-off walks to the first two Riverside batters hurt La Grande.

The Pirates eventually scored a run and got the bases loaded, but La Grande was still up 4-2 and had two outs on Riverside. That's when the Pirates ended the game with a home run.

"It was one of those unlucky things in baseball," said Young.

La Grande pitcher Derek Moore picked up the loss.

In the second game, Riverside (4-2 in GOL, 10-4 overall) erupted for nine runs in the first inning. There were three walks and two home runs in that nightmare inning.

The Tigers' Nic Lequerica came in to pitch and he kept the Pirates in check, holding Riverside to one hit and no runs in 5 1/3 innings.

"He pitched a whale of a game," said Young.

Rather than hang there heads, the Tigers pecked away at the huge lead. They scored a run in the second, and two in the fourth on a two-run home run by Daniel Wells.

Then in the sixth, La Grande had a big inning of its own, blowing up for four runs. Tyler Patrick delivered the big blow, a two-run double.

In the top of the seventh, La Grande loaded the bases with one out, but with the tying run 90 feet away and the winning run on second, the Tigers couldn't score.

Young thought T.J. Frye deserved a lot of credit for how he played. Frye started the game on the mound and struggled, but after being relieved by Lequerica, he played third base and contributed by going 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, scoring two runs and driving in a run.

La Grande gets a few days to lick its wounds, then the Tigers will be back on the diamond Friday, hosting Baker.

— Pierre LaBossire

Game One

La Grande 000 003 1 — 4 7 2

Riverside 100 000 5 — 6 9 1

Derek Moore and Kelly Moore; Nunez, Swindler (7) and Sands. LP — Derek Moore. WP — Swindler.

La Grande hits — Lequerica 2, Turner 2, George, Kelly Moore, Derek Moore. 3B — Turner. HR — Kelly Moore. RBI — Turner 2, Kelly Moore.

Game Two

La Grande 110 204 0 — 8 10 1

Riverside 900 000 x — 9 6 1

Frye, Lequerica (1) and Kelly Moore; Dirksen, Swindler (6), Nunez (7) and Hancock. LP — Frye. WP — Dirksen.

La Grande hits — Frye 2, Derek Moore 2, Wells 2, Dowdy, Kelly Moore, Patrick, George. 2B — Kelly Moore, Derek Moore, Frye. HR — Wells. RBI — Wells 2, Patrick 2, George, Kelly Moore, Dowdy, Frye.