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Timberjacks stage huge comeback

10-run sixth helps S.O. erase deficit

The Southern Oregon Timberjacks have been the comeback kids of the NorthwestLeague in 1997.

They added another ­ and the most prolific to date ­ chapterto that tale Sunday night at Miles Field, scoring 10 runs in the bottomof the sixth inning to erase an eight-run deficit en route to a 13-12 victoryover the Yakima Bears.

It was the third Sunday revival for the Timberjacks, who rallied froman 8-0 deficit July 20 to win 14-13 in 10 innings at Spokane. Against Eugeneon July 13, the Timberjacks trailed 10-4 in the sixth inning and ralliedfor a 16-10 triumph at Miles Field-Southern Oregon also came-back threenights in a row to defeat Everett in June.

I love it, Southern Oregon manager John Kuehl said. Itwas emotionally draining and just short of four hours. But these guys don'tquit and once again everybody contributed.

The Timberjacks won it in the bottom of the ninth when Eddie Lara lofteda sacrifice fly to right field, with the bases loaded, scoring Rodney Clifton.

We had our heads down part of the game, but we got our heads backup and we won it, said Lara. I fouled off a ball in the middleand I wondered why? I wanted a better swing and a chance for better contact.

The victory kept the Timberjacks in close contact with South Divisionfront-runner Portland. The Rockies (23-16), a 4-2 victor over Everett, remaineda half-game ahead of Southern Oregon (22-16). The Timberjacks also movedover the .500 mark at home, where they are now 10-9.

Even after the remarkable sixth inning, the Timberjacks had to keep scrappinguntil the Bears collapsed in the ninth.

You actually feel a little like you're on a roller coaster emotionally,Kuehl said. But you always have the confidence in the back of yourhead ­ `Hey we just scored 10 runs.' Two runs is nothing, another runis nothing. It's just a matter of playing good defense at that point.

Yakima right-hander Bill Everly, the fifth of six Bear pitchers, walkedClifton to start the ninth. Then when Everly began a pickoff move, firstbaseman Nick Leach charged toward home and Clifton took second on the resultingbalk.

They might have had a bunt play on and got mixed up, Cliftonsaid. I knew we had a good shot right there when I got to second baseand no outs.

One out later, pinch-hitter Roberto Vaz was intentionally walked andlifted for pinch-runner Victor Hernandez. After a pitching change, NathanHaynes also walked, loading the bases and setting the stage for Lara's sacrificefly.

The Bears, who sport the youngest club in the league with 11 teenagerson the roster, grabbed a 4-0 lead in the first inning before Southern Oregonstarting pitcher Marcus Jones retired his first batter.

Jamie Goudie and Rich Saitta singled to start the game. After Saittastole second, Jones walked Wynter Phoenix. Leach, the Los Angeles Dodgers'fifth-round pick in the 1996 draft, promptly connected on an 0-2 deliveryfor a grand slam. The ball rocketed off Leach's bat like a 3-iron shot tostraight-away right field.

It was the first time in the series that the Timberjacks had failed toretire Yakima in order in the first inning.

Southern Oregon answered with one run in the bottom of the first. Haynes,the 17-year-old center fielder making his second start in as many nightssince joining the club Friday, walked to start the inning and stole second.Lara, making his first start at third base after playing


Yakima's John Hernandez slides into second base Sunday despite the efforts of Southern Oregon's Brad Gorrie. - Photo by Andy Atkinson</P