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East County goes 2-2 at invite

by: Bill Wilson, Will DeBiccari shows the umpire the ball after tagging out a runner in the Knights’ 2-0 loss to NW Star Academy in their opening game.

OREGON CITY - Though still trying to establish an offensive identity, the East County Knights did manage to split its games to take fifth in the Rose City Invitational.

The AAA Legion Knights were one-hit in their opener, a 2-0 loss to the host NW Star Academy, then held on to beat the North Coast Renegades 4-3 on Thursday, June 22, in the wood-bat tournament at Clackamas Community College. Friday's 1-0 loss to the Bend Bucks sent them into the fifth-place game where they beat Beaverton Ringor 4-2 behind the pitching of Marc Hunter.

The Stars' Michael Eisenhauer allowed just one hit in the opening game. The West Linn graduate, Oregon's prep baseball player of the year in 2005, kept in command throughout by getting ahead of hitters. He had with 8 strikeouts in the complete game shutout.

'He just threw a lot of strikes,' leadoff hitter Bobnick said. 'We haven't been hitting well lately and he's a good pitcher.'

Eisenhauer didn't allow a hit until the Will DeBiccari lined a single into left field to start the fifth. DeBiccari was forced at second as Jim Bray reached on a fielder's choice.

Bray became East County's only runner to advance past first when he stole second. He moved to third on a groundout, but a strikeout ended the inning.

After allowing a double and an RBI-single to start the game, Bobnick was nearly as effective. But the Stars got two runs in the first and Eisenhauer made them stand.

Brooks Lindsley, who earned NWAACC player of the year honors at Mt. Hood, led off by sending a stand-up double over the center fielder's outstretched glove. Jackson Evans followed by slapping a full-count curveball into left to plate Lindsley. Jackson went to second on the throw home, to third on a passed ball and scored on a groundout.

Bobnick didn't allow a hit the rest of the way, striking out six before being relieved by Peter D'Aboy for a scoreless sixth.

'When I get mad, I focus a little harder,' Bobnick said. 'That's basically what happened.'

The Knights were also shut out Tuesday by the Stars, a 19-under AAU team mainly consisting of collegiate players.

'We just need that breakout game where we score 8 or 9 or 10 runs,' D'Aboy said. 'We need to get it together in one inning and stroke the ball around to get things going.'

East County fared better against the North Coast Renegades, a conglomerate of players from the Seaside area, despite getting just three hits in a 4-3 win.

The Knights took a 2-0 lead without a hit in the top of the first. Bobnick got hit by a pitch to lead off and a walk and another hit batter loaded the bases for DeBiccari, who walked on four pitches to bring in Bobnick. Ryan Morales later scored on a groundout with Jim Bray beating the relay throw to first to prevent an inning-ending double play.

'We hadn't score in a while, so that gave us a big boost,' Bobnick said.

East County tacked on another run in the fourth. Corey Pursel reached on an error and went to second on an errant pickoff throw. A groundout sent Pursel to third and Bobnick brought him home by looping a single over the shortstop for a 3-0 lead.

Morales shut down North Coast for three innings before being relieved by D'Aboy. An error opened up a two-run sixth inning with the Renegades getting back-to-back two-out singles to close their gap to 3-2.

The Knights answered back with a crucial insurance run in the seventh. Bobnick walked and went to second on D'Aboy's nice sacrifice bunt down the first-base line. A groundout moved Bobnick to third and he sprinted home on a wild pitch for a 4-2 lead.

'It's a huge difference (to be up two runs),' Bobnick said. 'If they get a guy on second early in the inning, you don't need to worry about him scoring.'

That was the case as the Renegades got a leadoff single from Henry Brause, who went to third on a pair of groundouts before scoring on a wild pitch. North Coast, which stranded 11 runners in the game, drew a walk and Morales let a grounder go off his glove before recovering in time to throw out the runner by a step to end the game.

East County's bats remained silent in Friday's loss to Bend. The Bucks scored once in the first and the run held as the Knights managed just two hits. The loss wasted a solid effort by pitcher Austan Mason, who allowed just three hits and struck out seven in the complete game effort.

Bray lined a one-out single into left in the seventh and DeBiccari, who had the other hit, walked to put the tying run in scoring position. But a chopper bounced perfectly to the shortstop for a game-ending double play.

Though still searching for offense, East County, which primarily features players from Sandy and Gresham high schools, have discovered the team's identity.

'We joke around a lot and I think that's helping on the field,' D'Aboy said.