by: Bill Wilson, East County pitcher Ryan Morales makes a throw during the Knight’s 4-3 win against North Coast on Thursday, June 22.

OREGON CITY - Though still trying to establish an offensive identity, the East County Knights did manage a split in its doubleheader to start pool play in the Rose City Invitational.

The Knights held on to beat the North Coast Renegades 4-3 in their finale Thursday, June 22, in the wood-bat tournament at Clackamas Community College.

East County moved in front in the first inning when William DeBiccari watched four straight pitches go past to draw a bases-loaded walk. Gresham's Ryan Morales scored on a groundout later in the inning for a 2-0 lead.

'We hadn't scored in a while, so that gave us a big boost,' Knights' lead-off hitter Greg Bobnick said.

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

Morales shut down North Coast for three innings before being relieved by Peter D'Aboy. The Renegades cut the gap to a single run in the sixth inning, but the Knights answered back with a crucial insurance run in the seventh.

Bobnick walked and went to second on D'Aboy's 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. You can give up a run.'

That was the case, as the Renegades got a leadoff single from Henry Brause, who eventually moved around to third base and scored on a wild pitch.

North Coast drew a walk to increase the pressure, but Morales knocked a grounder into the dirt and recovered in time to throw out the runner by a step to end the game.

The Knights were one-hit in their opener, a 2-0 loss to the host Northwest Stars, whose starting pitcher Michael Eisenhauer allowed just one hit. The West Linn graduate, Oregon's prep baseball player of the year in 2005, finished with 8 strikeouts in the complete game shutout.

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

Eisenhauer didn't allow a hit until DeBiccari lined a single into left field to lead off the fifth. DeBiccari was forced out at second on a sacrifice bunt attempt that left Jim Bray safely at first. He became East County's only runner to move into scoring position when he stole second base, then moved to third on a groundout. But the threat disappeared with a strikeout during the next at-bat.

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

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