Estacada drops close one on the road, remains winless in league

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: COLIN STORM - Estacadas Jordan Rohling connects for a hit.MOLALLA—On an afternoon where hits were scarce, the Molalla Indians timed their only two hits perfectly to pick up a key 1-0 win over the visiting Estacada Rangers Wednesday afternoon.

With Molalla pitcher Zane Shultz and Estacada pitcher Brandon Beck locked in a pitchers duel, Christian Lushenko scored on a two-out single from Riley James in the bottom of the second to for the only of the game.

Each team only got two hits on the afternoon.

“Coming into the week we talked about how tough we were going to be mentally this week. We had to have these two,” head coach Todd Potter said of the two-game sweep of the Rangers this week after Molalla beat Estacada 3-2 Monday. “Zane once again was outstanding. He’s done a very nice job for us. Tonight he threw one of his best games of the year which we needed.”

Estacada got their leadoff batters on in each of the first four innings, but failed to drive in any runs. In the top of first inning, James Smith drew a leadoff walk. However, Shultz got the next two batters to pop up in the infield and then a ground ball to end the inning.

After hitting Estacada’s Casey Jones to leadoff the second, Shultz again was able to get out of the jam by forcing an infield pop up and a pair of ground ball outs to end the inning.

“I was in the zone pretty good. I was a little off on some of my pitches but I came back to throw strikes and get outs,” Shultz said. “(The ball) got up a couple times, but keeping it low is what helped me out.”

In the bottom of the second, Lushenko led off with a single. After Kurt Potter struck out, Tyler Erwin sacrificed bunted Lushenko to second base to set up James’ clutch two-out RBI single.

Molalla would not get another hit on the afternoon.

“We executed a little better Monday than we did today,” Todd Potter said. “Today it looked like we were second guessing our swings a little bit.”

Base running also hurt the Rangers. With Estacada’s Jordan Rohling on second base and only one out in the top of the fourth inning, Chris Smith grounded back to Shultz. He turned and caught Rohling between second and third base, ran him down, and tossed the ball to Lushenko at third base to get Rohling.

The Indians also got some lucky bounces. With two outs in the top of the sixth inning, Bryce Babikoff hit a ground ball toward shortstop Ryan Potter, who was moving to his left. The ball short-hopped Potter, right to his younger brother, second baseman Kurt Potter, who picked up the ball and threw to first just in time.

Shultz threw a complete game, giving up only two hits and two walks.

With the win, Molalla goes to 2-2 in the Tri-Valley Conference and 5-9 overall, while Estacada dropped to 0-4 in the TVC and 4-7 overall. The Rangers take on Madras in a two-game series this week with the home matchup set for 5 p.m. Thursday.

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