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Falcons bag a pair of nailbiters

La Salle tightens its grip on second place with narrow wins at Molalla and Cascade

The La Salle Falcons upped their stock in Capital Conference baseball over the weekend, winning a couple of nailbiters in Friday night and Saturday morning ball games.

The Falcons won 2-1 in a pitchers' duel at Molalla on Friday night, and they won a 7-6 nine-inning heartstopper at Cascade on Saturday.

The pair of wins left the Falcons (10-9, 9-4) second only to Gladstone (12-5, 10-1) in the Capital Conference standings with five conference games remaining.

'I like where we're at,' said La Salle coach Chris George. 'We've finished the second round now and we've played the first game of the third round with Molalla. If the weather keeps us from completing the third round [of conference play] and we have to revert back to the second round, we've got second place.'

The win over Molalla (11-5, 7-4) gained the Falcons a 2-1 edge in their head-to-head series with the Indians.

But neither of last week's wins came easily.

'[The game with Cascade] was one of the craziest I've been involved with as a coach or a player,' said George.

The Falcons had an interference call in the top of the sixth inning that cost two runs. The umpire ruled that a Falcon baserunner interfered with the play while running to first base. The runner was declared out and two runs were called back.

Later in the sixth inning, La Salle centerfielder Cam Mitchell was ejected from the game after he reacted after striking out.

'We had no more substitutions, so we had to play the last four innings with only eight kids in the field,' said George. 'We played Nate Bucher in left-center and Mike Oborn in right-center. The crazy thing is Cascade had several balls hit in the gap that would have normally been hits, but they went right to our outfielders.'

Trailing 5-3, the Falcons needed two runs in the top of the seventh to keep the game going. Billy Wainwright walked, advanced on a passed ball and scored on a two-bagger by Bobby Ragasa.

The tying run scored courtesy of a Cascade throwing error. With two down in the seventh, Mychal Baseel hit a routine ground ball to Cascade's shortstop. The shortstop threw the ball short of first base and Ragasa scored to make it a 5-5 tie.

Oborn led off the eighth with a base hit and moved to second on a sacrifice by Bucher. With Mitchell's ejection, his hole in the batting lineup made it two away. Wainwright doubled to left-center, and it was 6-5 La Salle.

Cascade answered with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to force another extra inning.

Shane Brady reached with one down in the ninth on a fielding error. Joe O'Neill doubled and Oborn drew an intentional walk to load up the bases. Bucher reached as a hit batsman to force in the winning run.

Cascade threatened in the bottom of the ninth, advancing runners to first and second with one down. But O'Neill handled a one-hop line drive, stepped on the bag at second and rifled the ball to first for a game-ending double play.

O'Neill (3-for-4) headed the Falcon offense in a 10-hit offensive attack with a two-run home run, his timely double and three RBI.

Ragasa (2-for-5) had two doubles, two runs scored and one RBI.

The Cougars reached La Salle pitchers O'Neill and Brady for 11 hits.

George praised sophomore Lucas Flagg for his efforts filling in for Tony Titrud at shortstop. Flagg, in his first varsity start of the season, played error-free ball, while making six assists.

Pitching and timely hitting proved the different in Friday's 2-1 win at Molalla.

Oborn and Molalla's Riley Falk were both superb on the mound. Oborn struck out nine, while allowing five hits and two walks. Falk had eight strikeouts, two walks and one hit batsman in a 2-hitter.

But the Falcons made their hits count.

Baseel reached in the third inning on an infield single, moved to second on an error, advanced to third on Mitchell's sacrifice, and scored when Molalla's shortstop threw the ball away on a ground ball by Wainwright.

La Salle's game-winner was a solo home run by Ragasa in the top of the fourth.

Molalla scored its lone run in the fifth inning on three singles. Oborn got the Falcons out of the inning with two strikeouts.

In upcoming games, the Falcons host Stayton this Friday and they travel to Gladstone next Monday.