La Salle a force in Capital baseball

The Falcons have beaten every conference team except Gladstone

MILWAUKIE - La Salle High School's baseball team has figured out every team in the Capital Conference except Gladstone.

With wins over Estacada (9-2), Cascade (4-2) and Stayton (16-0) in back-to-back games played April 14-16, the Falcons had beaten every team in the conference except Gladstone.

Last Wednesday's 16-0 rout of Stayton avenged an earlier loss and was the sixth win in a row for the Falcons.

But it all came to an end last Friday, when the Falcons got shut out by Gladstone (8-0) for the second time this season. The Falcons were competitive in Friday's loss to the Gladiators. It was a one-run game heading into the final inning.

La Salle (8-9, 7-4) finished last week third - behind Gladstone (11-5, 9-1) and Molalla (10-4, 6-3) - in the conference standings with the season half over.

'Our kids are playing at a high level right now and making our opponents play at a high level,' La Salle coach Chris George said, following the rout of Stayton. 'They're playing smart baseball. We haven't made a lot of errors, our pitchers are throwing strikes and making the opponent put the ball in play, and we've been getting timely hitting.'

Timely hitting proved the difference in last week's 4-2 win over Stayton.

In the first inning, Cam Mitchell drew a walk, stole around to third and scored on a groundout by Kramer Croisant.

In the second frame, Bobby Ragasa walked, advanced on a base hit by Colby Neal and a passed ball, and scored on a groundout by Shane Brady.

And the Falcons plated the game winner in the fourth. Tony Titrud reached on a fielder's choice, advanced on a base hit by Croisant, and scored with two down on a base hit by Ragasa. Neal plated Croisant for an insurance tally.

The Falcons also came through with a huge defensive play in the top of the fourth. With the score tied at 2-2 and a man at second, a Cougar launched a single to left field. Leftfielder Mike Oborn hit Ragasa on the cutoff, and Ragasa gunned down Cascade's baserunner in a bang-bang play at the plate.

Oborn came up with another huge defensive play in the top of the seventh when he went flat out on a diving catch that robbed a Cougar of an extra-base hit.

Pitchers Ragasa and Brady made the Cougars swing the bats, combining for seven strikeouts and one walk, while yielding five hits and just one earned run.

The Falcons stung the ball for 18 hits and pitcher Joe O'Neill (5 strikeouts, 3 hits) faced only 20 batters in five innings in the 16-0 rout of Stayton.

Heading the offensive fireworks were Mitchell (4-for-4) with a two-run home run and three RBI, Titrud (3-for-4) with five RBI, and Croisant (3-for-4) with a two-run home run and five RBI.

The Falcons put Estacada away early, scoring nine runs in the first two innings.

Croisant went the distance on the hill, striking out five and walking one in a 4-hitter.

Billy Wainwright (2-for-4) had a two-run home run and Brady hit a two-run single in a five-run second inning.

'We came out swinging our bats and Kramer did a tremendous job,' said George. 'He's coming off an injury and it was his first complete game and his first start this season.'