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The Newberg Tigers pick up wins over Forest Grove and Westview last weekend to kick off the season

HILLSBORO — Despite being shorthanded due to Father's Day, the Newberg 16-U summer baseball team managed to split four games at the Century Tournament over the weekend to continue what has been a solid start to the season. SETH GORDON - Shortstop Connor Nipp tags out a Rex Putnam baserunner trying to steal second base during the Newberg 16U baseball team's 8-5 road loss June 14. The Tigers are 7-6 so far this summer.

Down to just eight players, the Tigers recruited a few younger players, like eighth-grader Connor Hale, to fill out the roster and still managed to pick up wins over Westview and Forest Grove.

That was a positive result coming off an 8-5 loss at Rex Putnam on Friday that saw the Kingsmen score five in the fifth inning to pull away.

Newberg did rally with three runs in the top of the sixth inning to tighten things up, but the Tigers were unable to gain any traction in the seventh. Ben Zatterberg had two hits and Liam Deats added two RBIs to lead the offense.

Newberg struggled with walks and hit batsmen in the opening game of the tournament Saturday morning, falling to Grant 13-3 in five innings despite giving up just three hits.

The Tigers bounced back in the afternoon with a 4-2 victory over Westview, which avenged a 10-8 defeat to the Wildcats earlier this season.

Newberg staked an early lead by scoring a single run in the top of the first inning, with Westview leveling the contest in the bottom of the fourth. The Tigers promptly responded with three runs in the top of the fifth.

Tyler Takahashi started on the mound for Newberg and went four innings, with Hudson Andrews throwing the final three innings to pick up the win. Takahashi also added a hit and two walks at the plate.

"Tyler hasn't thrown a lot of innings for me in the past, but he's really taken on pitching and he'll get in there and throw strikes," assistant coach Trevor Erion said. "He usually starts ahead in the count. He's a pretty solid pitcher, which surprises me because he catches, plays the outfield. He's a pretty good utility player."

Although the score looks similar to the Grant game, Erion said the Tigers played well in a 10-0 loss to Gresham in the first game Sunday morning.

He said he was pleased with how the team closed the tournament, though, outlasting Forest Grove 11-8 thanks in part to three hits from Hale.

It was a back-and-forth affair in the early innings, as Forest Grove jumped out to a 5-4 lead after one inning and carried an 8-7 lead into the top of the fourth.

It seemed the contest would continue in that fashion after the Tigers put up four runs in the top of the fourth, but relief pitcher Kyler Erion didn't allow a run over the final four innings to pick up the win. With the victory, Newberg improved to 6-7 on the season.

Keeping the mood light and enjoying some team success has been the focus so far this summer after both the Newberg High School freshmen and junior varsity teams had frustrating seasons in the spring.

"It was a year, with a lot of us being new coaches, getting to know some of these boys," Coach Erion said. "We want to create a culture of playing together during the summer and having fun. If kids enjoy a sport then they're going to play it more often."

He led the team over the weekend with head coach Marc Nipp out of town, and said that it's been encouraging to get a handful of players who didn't suit up for NHS to come out for summer ball.

Coach Erion said he believes there are a handful of players on the roster who will have a chance to compete for spots on the varsity team next spring, but for now the focus is on giving everybody playing time and developing some chemistry.

"It's nice to see some new faces," he said. "We always want to encourage kids who play Newberg baseball to come out for these teams during the summer because it's really the only way we're going to grow the program."

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