July 18, 2003 11:00 pm

HOOD RIVER — The Union County 13-year-old Babe Ruth boys had cruised through their first two wins at the state tournament this week.

Perhaps it was time they had to sweat one out.

The District 3 champion boys were behind in much of their game against the Columbia Gorge Americans Friday, but they scored a run in the bottom of the seventh and a run in the bottom of the eighth to pull out an 8-7 win.

The victory puts the the boys at 3-0 in the tournament, and assures them of a trip into the second, single-elimination round of the tournament.

Anthony Nice drove in the tying run in the seventh with an RBI single, and Cody McKague drove in the winning run with a bases-loaded single in the eighth.

Manager Darwin Roberts was nervous before this game. "I had a bad feeling in my stomach" about Columbia Gorge, he said.

Still, Roberts thought it was good for the boys to have to fight for a win. They immediately fell behind 3-0, and were forced to battle back. They learned that if they want to win the state title, it isn't going to be easy.

"It was a good eye-opener for them," Roberts said.

The boys played Saturday morning against Hermiston. They begin the second round of the tournament Sunday.