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Nothing comes easy in Tri-Valley baseball


Falcons eke out three wins, improve to 6-0

The La Salle Prep Falcons last week continued as the team to beat in Tri-Valley Conference baseball, winning all three of their games and improving to 6-0 in conference and 11-2 on the season. But none of the wins came easily.

The third-in-the-state-ranked Falcons scored one run in the bottom of the seventh in a 10-9 win over second-ranked North Marion on April 21. They scored a single tally in the bottom of the eighth to edge Molalla 2-1 on April 22, and they won a 3-2 barnburner at Molalla to close out the week.

“We were in three tight ball games and we were fortunate to be on the winning side in all three,” said La Salle coach Jake Austin. “A bounce or two goes the other way and we could have lost any one of those games. It just goes to show how tough our league is. In our league, you’ve got to be ready to play every day.”

The three wins left the Falcons (11-2, 6-0) two games in front of North Marion (14-3, 4-2) and Estacada (8-8, 4-2), who finished last week tied for second place in the TVC.

Last week’s 10-9 win over North Marion was a game with wide swings in momentum.

La Salle went up 3-1 with three runs in the second frame, but North Marion bounced back with five runs in the third to go up 6-3.

La Salle added six runs in the fourth and fifth to take a 9-6 lead. But North Marion knotted the score at 9-9, with two runs in the top of the sixth, and one in the seventh.

The Falcons loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, with walks by Austin Vaughn and Kelly Krumm, a fielder’s choice, and an intentional walk to Nick Johnson. Krumm then scored the game-winner with two down, on a passed ball.

Each team had nine hits. Krumm (3-run double), Dane Maben (2-for-4) and Connor Shride (2-for-5) led La Salle at the plate.

Three La Salle pitchers issued nine free passes to go with nine hits. They were supported by error-free defensive play.

“Defense won that game for us,” said Austin.

Junior Ian Basile was sharp on the mound in the 2-1 win over the Indians. He was around the plate and ahead of batters all game long, as he threw only 81 pitches in eight innings, striking out six, walking no one and hitting one batter, while scattering six hits.

Molalla scored its only run in the fourth inning. A baserunner reached on an error, advanced on a stolen base and groundout, and scored on a two-out double by Kurt Potter.

La Salle answered in the bottom of the sixth. Maben and Sam Wade singled with one down, advanced on a wild pitch, and Maben scored on a passed ball.

Molalla threatened in the top of the eighth, loading the bases with one down on two singles and a hit batter. Vaughn, playing shortstop, got the second out when he made the play at home on a ground ball, and Maben hauled down a fly in left field to end Molalla’s half of the inning.

Maben (2-for-3) then led off the bottom of the eighth with a base hit, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Wade and a base hit by Vaughn, and scored the game-winner on a passed ball.

Keaton Franco pitched a complete game for Molalla, striking out three, walking one and yielding only five hits.

La Salle scored twice in the second inning and once in the top of the fifth in the Falcons’ 3-2 win at Molalla.

In the second, Krumm singled and Shride walked; the runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Michael Duarte; and they scored with two down on a two-run single by Dowhaniuk.

Molalla got a run back in the bottom of the fifth, scoring with two down on a hit batter and three base hits.

Leading 2-1, La Salle scored the game-winner in the top of the fifth. Maben walked advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit by Vaughan.

Molalla answered with a single tally in the bottom of the fifth, scoring on a base hit, a stolen base and a groundout.

There was some drama in the seventh. The Indians had the winning run at the plate, when Duarte made a running catch down the left field line. Vaughn then hauled in a fly at shortstop to end the game.

Freshman Ole Arntson pitched the first five innings, striking out four and walking two, while scattering six hits. Dowhaniuk allowed no hits in two innings of relief. The pitchers were supported by near error-free defensive play.

Molalla pitcher Aaron Alexander struck out two, walked two and allowed just five hits in a complete game.

The Falcons entertain cross-town rival Gladstone (10-6, 3-3) tonight at 6:30; they play Estacada on the road on Thursday.

Gladstone had a tough week last week, dropping two close games to North Marion, 2-1 and 3-1.