La Salle hardballers off to 6-0 start

The Falcons take care of business with North Marion, Molalla and Estacada in their league openers

MILWAUKIE - La Salle High School has been the biggest surprise in Capital Conference baseball this spring.

La Salle had a 4-21 season last year and the Falcons finished last in the Tri-Valley League.

The Falcons are 6-0 to start this season, with wins in their first three league games. They're the only Capital Conference team without a loss after the first week of conference action.

'I don't know if we're lucky or good,' said La Salle coach Chris George. 'I guess we'll find out.'

The Falcons played back-to-back league games on three days last week and came out with wins over North Marion (7-3), Molalla (5-4) and Estacada (6-5).

George says he's excited about the early-season wins, but he cautioned:

'This gets us off to a really good start. But we play everybody three times [in league], and having close games with Molalla and Estacada shows it's going to be a tight league race.

'I certainly don't expect us to win the rest of our games. Baseball's a two-out-of-three game, and if we can go two-out-of-three against every [league] team, we'll be looking good.'

George said that last week's 7-3 win over North Marion on March 21 was huge for his Falcons.

'They'd beaten Gladstone the night before, so our kids were really excited to knock them off,' he said.

The Falcons never trailed in the North Marion game. They put the contest away in the sixth frame, when they stretched their advantage to 6-2 with a two-out, three-run rally. Tony Titrud (RBI-single) and Bill Wainwright (2-run single) had the key hits in the pivotal inning.

La Salle pitchers Duncan Mitchell and Mike Oborn teamed up to throw a 4-hitter. Mitchell fanned six batters in 4-2/3 innings of work.

Cam Mitchell, Colby Neil and Mark Meek hit doubles and they all scored two times.

Kramer Croisant comes to play

Last Thursday's 5-4 win over Molalla was a nailbiter. The Indians nearly pulled it out in the top of the seventh, when they rallied for three runs.

Reliever Kramer Croisant got the save. The sophomore left-hander took to the mound with two down and runners on second and third in the seventh frame and got a Molalla batter to ground out to Joe O'Neill at third base for the final out.

Croisant also headed La Salle's offense with two hits and two RBI.

Cam Mitchell and Jared Kaufman both hit run-scoring doubles in a four-hit first inning.

The Falcons scored the game-winner in the fifth frame on a run-scoring base hit by Croisant.

Bobby Ragasa was huge in relief of starter Nick Dieringer. The sophomore right-hander had six strikeouts, walked one batter and gave up three unearned runs in 4-2/3 innings of relief.

'Bobby did a wonderful job,' said George. 'He threw 47 strikes and 17 balls. He made them put the ball in play.'

Neal, Oborn earn hero honors

Junior Colby Neal and Oborn were the heroes in last Friday's 6-5 win over Estacada.

Neal stepped to the plate with one down in the bottom of the seventh and drove a single to right to plate Duncan Mitchell for the winning run.

Oborn took over on the mound in the sixth and seventh innings, facing seven batters and striking out six.

'Mike came in throwing strikes and throwing hard,' said George. 'His slider was working. Four of his strikeouts were looking.'

Meek and Croisant had run-scoring doubles in a five-run Falcon third inning.

It was a contest played under less-than ideal conditions.

'It rained all game long,' said George. 'There were puddles and it was pretty sloppy all the way through, but the umpires never called it, and we just kept preserving.'

George said the biggest surprise so far this season has been the hitting of Croisant, Cam Mitchell and Titrud. The trio boasted respective batting averages of .462, .455 and .381 through La Salle's first six games.

The Falcons are at Grant Union this Thursday through Saturday, where they have games scheduled with Phoenix, Lakeview and Astoria.

They return to league play next week, playing at Stayton on Monday and entertaining Gladstone on Wednesday, April 4.