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Baseball: Tigers on best roll since 2006 season

It's been almost four years since the Farmington baseball team has put together this good a stretch of play.

Going back to a 10-9 road victory over New Prague on April 27, the Tigers have won four of their last five games. The last time coach Mike Winters' team did that was from May 17-29 of the 2006 season. Winters said the team has been improving in all three phases of the game -- hitting, pitching and defense -- during its current run.

"We've really been hitting and pitching well. At the plate we're doing a good job of staying back and going with the pitch. And throwing strikes helps you get off the field defensively," he said. "Our defense is still inconsistent, but I think we have more double plays than we've had in a long time."

That inconsistent defense was exploited during the team's only loss last week when five errors resulted in a 7-1 loss to Benilde St. Margaret's Saturday morning in the opening round of the Wood Bat Tournament at Apple Valley. The Tigers bounced back with a 6-5 win over host Apple Valley Saturday afternoon, which pushed their record back within a game of .500 at 7-8 overall.

The Tigers got off to a strong start against the Eagles, scoring two runs in each of the first two innings to give starter Mike Jolliff a 4-1 lead to work with.

Jolliff helped himself with a sacrifice fly during a first inning that also included an error that scored Justin Lavey, who led off the game with a walk.

Brian Newberg drew a walk to lead off the second and a Taylor Wood single moved him around to third. Newberg trotted home on a Lavey sacrifice fly and Steven Barber followed with his second hit in as many innings to make it 4-1.

The score stayed that way until Apple Valley chased Jolliff from the game with a four-run bottom half of the fifth inning.

Cody Carlson came on in relief and pitched scoreless ball in the fifth and sixth. He earned the pitching win when the Tigers rallied with two runs in the top half of the sixth. That frame included a Wood double, an RBI single by Lavey and a go-ahead fielder's choice by Barber.

Wood finished with three of the team's six hits and Barber added two hits and two RBI.

Lavey relieved Carlson in the seventh and picked up his first save of the season.

The Tigers couldn't get their wood bats going in the tournament opener and Benilde St. Margaret's turned an early 3-0 lead into a 7-1 victory.

Farmington trailed 4-0 by the time it got on the board in the top of the fourth. Tyler Landry started the inning with a single and scored on a Tony Ferrozzo single.

Landry pitched five innings and allowed seven runs (four earned) on 10 hits while being backed by a defense that committed five errors. Those miscues led to three unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth.

"We had some chances to make it interesting, but big plays and mental mistakes took away any momentum or rally we had going," Winters said. "Errors late allowed them to have a big fifth inning and we never recovered."

The Tigers had their Tuesday home game rained out. They play again tonight at Northfield. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.

Farmington 7,

Shakopee 6

The Tigers took control with four runs in the top of the first inning and held on for a 7-6 league win at Shakopee Thursday, squaring their Missota Conference mark at 5-5.

Barber, Lavey and Rudorfer each accounted for two of the team's 10 hits and Sebren Baer and Tyler Landry each drove home two runs.

Lavey earned his third win, pitching five innings and holding Shakopee to three earned runs. Justin Tang came on in relief and picked up the two-inning save.

Farmington 7,

Red Wing 3

The Tigers pounded out 13 hits and avenged an early-season loss to Red Wing with a 7-3 road victory last Tuesday.

Jolliff paced the lineup with three hits and Carlson, Rudorfer and Baer each ripped two hits. Rudorfer supplied three RBI and Carlson drove home two.

Farmington scored four runs in the top of the second and that was enough for Tang (3-0), who scattered nine hits during a complete-game effort. He walked none and has issued just five free passes in 23 innings this season.