Ah, the month of May. Flowers in bloom, summer’s right around the corner and, of course, it’s baseball season.
Coming back after a shuttered season, Tualatin Timberwolves baseball traveled up the road to face rival Tigard on the diamond to finish off a short two-game series.
Typically around this time of year, spring sports would be in the midst of its season, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the cramming of all sports between March and mid-June, this game was one of the last for the season. And, when the virus began its terror last March, spring sports were outright canceled for the year, leading several teams to start from scratch this season with a new batch of athletes. Tualatin Baseball was no exception.
Junior outfielder Griffin Biggs and senior outfielder Connor Goodhue returned as the only veteran varsity athletes from the 2019 season with the remaining 16 players either starting on the high school team for the first time or having participated exclusively in practices last year.
“It’s tough (playing with the young team), but we’ve come together exceptionally well,” senior pitcher Jackson Larrance said. “With COVID season, to have that one behind us, it’s nice to be out on the field and play again together as a team.”
So, coming into this famed rivalry series as old as time itself (well… 1992), Tualatin senior Max Krahnke pitched a 2-hit 3-0 shutout on the home field.
It so happened that Tigard suffered a similar fate to the Wolves, with only two returning players from the 2019 season, while also only having a roster of 12.
Nonetheless, with the game to finish off the series on May 11, the Wolves wouldn’t let up.
Starting at the top of the first inning with five consecutive hits from Biggs, junior catcher Michael Miller, Goodhue, Larrance and junior Eddie Farah, Biggs and Miller scored runs right out the gate.
In the second inning and with an initial 2-0 lead, junior infielder Marc Christensen was walked to first. Veteran Goodhue stepped up to bat, but on strike three and a catching error, Goodhue tore to first base with Christensen on second. He was then followed by junior Xavier Otto who was narrowly hit by a pitch sending him to first base. The bases were loaded yet again, with no outs acquired.
Biggs then returned through the rotation and struck a single to shallow left, scoring Christensen. RBIs from senior Shawn Hunt and Miller would only increase their lead with Goodhue and Otto taking home. This streak ultimately found its end with a line drive to shallow left and a double play for the Tigers knocking out first and second, keeping Tualatin from then scoring in the next three innings.
The Tigers regained some ground in the bottom of the third with a pitching error from Larrance, allowing a two-base run to score. After two following Tigard runs, Larrance was replaced by his younger brother on the mound.
“I was personally a little disappointed in (my performance),” Larrance said. “I didn’t have my stuff, couldn’t find my off-speed. But my brother (sophomore Logan Larrance) came in and my boy Shawn (Hunt) came in and those guys set me up, got the job done.”
This proved effective with Logan Larrance only allowing one run in his three-and-a-third innings.
Still, amid no-score innings for the Wolves, some interesting moments had sprung up. In the top of the fifth, Tigard pitcher Buddy Brands walked Krahnke, who proceeded to steal second just before he also walked Christensen. While Goodhue set up for an RBI bunt attempt, Christensen tried a steal of his own. Darting halfway to second, Brands threw to first base, and suddenly everyone paused. All was quiet. With everyone seemingly confusing and no one throwing, Christensen sidestepped safely over to second.
By the seventh and final inning, the Wolves lead 7-4. A two-base run from Goodhue on a catching error with a single RBI from Hunt scoring Otto coming off third base secured the final 9-4 win for the Wolves.
On the hill, Logan Larrance recorded five strikeouts with three hits, allowing one run. Hunt went 4 for 5 at bat, with Hunt, Goodhue and Otto each contributing two runs to bring the Wolves to a 7-3 Three Rivers League record (9-4 overall).
The game and the series fell into the Wolves’ favor, and the team accredited it to the dugout’s much-improved energy.
“Oh, it was probably energy.” Jackson Larrance said. “We had a very good dugout this series, not all of our guys had our best stuff, but we still pushed through it and got the W’s.”
“The dugout talk is a big deal, you know,” Logan Larrance said. “It gets the energy up, gets the vibe going. People start hitting when people start talking, so it just feels good.”