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La Salle should be a power in 4A baseball

The Falcons return seven starters, including their top pitchers


With a host of returning starters, including their top two pitchers from last year’s league championship ball club, the La Salle Prep Falcons will be the team to beat in Tri-Valley Conference baseball this spring, and they could be a contender for the Class 4A state title.

The Falcons return seven players with starting experience. And they are hungry, with bitter memories of losing to 2012 state finalist Hidden Valley early in last year’s state playoffs still haunting them.

The Falcons have graduated 2012 TVC Player of the Year and first-team all-state outfielder Erich Regan. But they return first-team all-league pitchers Trey Norton and Sean Hays, along with their senior classmates Grant Studdard (catcher), Sam Eichhorn (first base), Cam Young (second base) and Alex Tetherow (outfield). Junior Austin Vaughn, a part-time starter at shortstop, also returns.

Eichhorn was a first-team all-conference selection last year and Studdard made the league’s second all-star unit.

The Falcons also have a talented transfer from Central Catholic in sophomore Mike Duarte, who is starting for the Falcons at third base.

Other top prospects returning from last year’s team include senior outfielder Cole Devore, junior outfielder Dane Maben and junior Connor Stride, a backup catcher.

La Salle coach Mike Reed says the Falcons have gained a third pitcher with pretty good skills in junior Theo Peterson, who moves up from last year’s jayvee.

Comparing this year’s team to last year’s, Reed says, “We’re better defensively and the pitching’s been excellent, but we’ve been struggling a little with our bats. We lost three all-league outfielders who were really good hitters.”

Asked what he likes about the team, Reed said, “I like the way they show up to play. You make a mistake and we capitalize.”

The Falcons have had a tough preseason schedule, but they’ve been very competitive.

Norton threw a 4-hitter in a 4-0 shutout of Scappoose in their March 12 opener, striking out nine and walking one.

La Salle scored all four of its runs in the fifth inning, taking advantage of two errors, while stringing together hits by Norton, Maben and Devore, along with a successful squeeze by Vaughn. Devore had a key hit in the rally, a two-run double.

The Falcons prevailed in a 2-1 barnburner with Philomath on March 13. Peterson struck out nine and allowed only two hits in 5-1/3 innings of work, with Vaughn moping up in the fifth, sixth and seventh, and earning the win.

La Salle scored its runs in the bottom of the sixth. Following two Philomath errors, Devore squeezed in the tying run. The winning run came home on a wild pitch.

The Falcons gave up the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the sixth in a 5-4 loss to Cascade on March 14.

Studdard (2-for-4, 2-run double in the first) and Eichhorn (2-run single in the fifth) had key hits for La Salle in the losing effort.

La Salle gave Class 5A powerhouse Crescent Valley a run for its money last Saturday in a game played at Oregon State University’s Goss Stadium, yielding 2-1 in a game stopped after five innings because of the weather.

The Falcons out-hit the Raiders 5-2, but errors led to Crescent Valley’s two runs, both of them unearned.

Norton (2 strikeouts, 2 walks) pitched a two-hitter.

The Falcons scored one earned run in the first inning. Vaughn walked, advanced on a groundout by Studdard and a balk, and scored on a single up the middle by Eichhorn.

The Falcons return to their home diamond this afternoon, hosting Yamhill-Carlton; they entertain Valley Catholic on Friday. League play begins April 2 at Madras.



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