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A 1-0 loss to North Marion appears to take La Salle out of the running for the TVL title

It looks like the La Salle Falcons will have to settle for second place in Tri-Valley Conference baseball.

First place appeared out of reach after a 1-0 loss to North Marion in a game played at La Salle last Thursday. The win put the league-leading Huskies at 11-1 in conference (15-7 overall) with but three league games remaining.

La Salle, at 9-3 (17-6 overall), was in second place in the standings, three games up on third-place Gladstone (6-6 league; 10-11 overall).

“We have to play for RPI now, and win as many games as we can for RPI,” said La Salle coach Mike Reed. “We want the highest RPI we can get, so we won’t have to go on the road [in the state playoffs], where we have to make an eight-hour trip to someplace like Ontario.”

The Falcons were to finish up their league slate this week, playing at Molalla (6-16, 3-9) on Monday (May 6), at Gladstone this afternoon, and hosting Estacada (6-13, 2-10) on Friday.

The pitching of North Marion junior all-league right-hander Brock Breshears, North Marion defense, and one bad inning by La Salle pitcher Trey Norton proved the difference in last week’s loss to the Huskies.

Breshears (8 hits allowed, 2 walks, one hit batter), who is 9-0 on the season, didn’t strike out anybody. But he had great control— throwing only 80 pitches. And the Falcons had problems getting on top of his curve ball.

“We couldn’t hit his curve with guys in scoring position, and they played great defense behind him,” Reed said. “We had 12 fly-ball outs and we left 12 on base. We had baserunners in every inning but the sixth....

“Trey pitched well, except for one inning.... He had that one bad inning, and you can’t have a bad inning against a team like North Marion, or it will cost you.”

North Marion scored the game’s only run with two down in the top of the third. The Huskies loaded the bases in the third with a hit batter, a base hit by Breshears and an intentional walk to Kyle Williamson. Tristan Wampole then stepped to the plate and a drew a two-out, full-count walk, forcing in the winning run.

Norton pitched a complete game, striking out four, walking two, and hitting the one batter.

Both teams played error-free defense behind their pitchers.

“We need to win our three remaining league games to get our RPI up,” Reed said. “But I’m confident these kids can do that. These seniors have been playing together since they were freshmen. They know what’s on the line and I know they’ll get it done....

“We’ve had a pretty amazing year so far — 9-3 in league and 17-6 overall. We’ve lost six games this year by seven runs total. That’s kind of unbelievable.”

Reed noted that his Falcons are 10-2 at home, with both losses coming at the hands of Breshears and his North Marion teammates.

In other games last week, the Falcons defeated Estacada 3-1 and they escaped Madras with a 15-7 extra-inning victory.

Leading 7-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Falcons appeared to have the Madras game in hand.

But there was no quit in the White Buffaloes, who scored a quick run with one down in the bottom of the seventh on back-to-back singles and a run-scoring double. With two down, Madras brought two more runs across, when a Falcon outfielder dropped a routine fly ball.

Reed had a few words with his players before their at bat in the top of the eighth, and they responded, scoring eight runs on four walks and five hits.

All eight runs were scored with two down. Norton brought the game-winner across with a two-run single. Sam Eichhorn ripped a two-run double; Dane Maben hit a run-scoring single; Austin Vaughn singled; and Alex Tetherow rounded out the scoring with a bases loaded triple.

“The kids came back from adversity,” said Reed. “The same kids that screwed up in the seventh, came back and won it for us in the top of the eighth.”

Led by Grant Studdard (4-for-4, triple, double, 3 RBI, 2 runs), the Falcons stung the ball for 20 hits in the extra-inning win.

Sean Hays pitched the first six innings, striking out nine, while giving up nine hits and three walks, and hitting three batters. Vaughn and Norton finished up in relief.

The Falcons staged a three-run rally in the top of the sixth to pull out last week’s 3-1 win at Estacada.

Tetherow (2-for-2, double) walked, stole second, and scored on a two-bagger by Cam Young. Vaughn sacrificed Young to third, and Young scored on a squeeze-bunt single by Studdard. Studdard stole around to third and scored when Eichhorn reached on a dropped fly ball.

Estacada scored its only run in the bottom of the sixth on a base hit, two wild pitches and a passed ball.

Mike Duarte pitched the first 6-2/3 innings, striking out five, walking one, and scattering six hits. Norton retired the game’s final batter with two on in the seventh on a called third strike.

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