North Marion, La Salle and Gladstone ranked high

The Tri-Valley Conference figures to be one of the toughest Class 4A baseball leagues in the state this spring.

Heading into this week’s TVC league openers, North Marion, La Salle and Gladstone were ranked second, third and fifth in the state respectively in the OSAA power rankings.

North Marion, sporting a 10-1 record, was riding a nine-game win string, its only loss in a 2-1 barnburner with Class 6A Corvallis.

La Salle (5-1) suffered it first loss on April 1, yielding to Class 5A Putnam. Gladstone entered this week’s league games with a 7-3 record, with losses to Henley, the top-ranked team in 4A, and Class 5A powers Hood River and Ridgeview.

Following a 14-4 win over Stayton on Saturday, La Salle coach Jake Austin said, “It was one of our better performances of the season.”

The Falcons stung the ball for 14 hits in the game and they supported pitchers Austin Vaughn, Oly Arntson and Chris Dowhaniuk with near flawless defensive play.

“We scored six runs in the first inning,” said Austin. “The top four kids in our lineup combined for 10 hits.”

Leadoff hitter Dane Maben (2-for-4) hammered out two doubles and scored three times.

Sam Wade (3-for-5) had two runs and two RBI; Vaughn (2-for-4) drove in two runs; cleanup hitter Kelly Krumm (3-for-4) had three RBI and scored twice.

The win followed on the heals of an 11-0 loss to Putnam, a game in which the Falcons could do little right.

“It was a tough night for La Salle baseball,” said Austin. “Trace Loehr, their shortstop who has signed with Oregon State, led off the game with a home run. In the third inning, Loehr hit a line-drive triple to the fence in centerfield and our centerfielder, Keaton Kryger, ran into the fence and was knocked unconscious [trying to retrieve Loehr’s three-bagger].... Our kids were pretty shook up after that.”

Austin says that Kryger appears to have fully recovered from the incident.

“I’m pleased with where we’re at,” Austin said. “The kids are doing a good job of getting used to a new system. We still have a ways to go, but all-in-all, they are playing pretty decent baseball.”

The Falcons play Madras on the road this afternoon and they have an away game with North Marion next Tuesday.

Gladiators handle Philomath 6-4

Gladstone was in pretty good form on Saturday, when the Gladiators took care of business in a preseason game with Philomath, winning 6-4, in a game played in the rain at West Linn.

“We gave them a few too many outs, but our kids played hard,” said Gladstone coach Casey Webster.

The Gladiators scored runs in five different innings as they stung the ball for 12 hits, while Gladstone pitchers Trask Telesmanich, Cody Swenson and A.J. Swalko together scattered six hits, while striking out seven.

Mitchell Foeller plated what would prove the game-winner in the bottom of the fifth. Chris Toh doubled, Austin Krieger reached on a base hit, and Foeller brought Toh around with a fielder’s choice. Ben Fox plated an insurance tally with a timely sacrifice fly in the sixth frame.

Toh (2-for-2, 3 runs scored), Swalko (2-for-4, 2 RBI), Krieger (2-for-4) and Foeller (2-for-3, 2 RBI) all made major contributions on offense.

The Gladiators struggled at the plate in an April 1 preseason game at Hood River, Toh’s single in the fifth inning was Gladstone’s only hit in a 7-0 loss. Hood River ace Ryan Ward struck out six and walked one in six innings of work.

“[Ward] had a good fastball and a decent breaking pitch,” said Webster. “We hit some balls hard, but they were line drives right at people.”

Swalko sports a .486 batting average heading into league play, with 18 hits — including five doubles, in 37 at bats. Foeller (.600, 9-for-15), Jake Jubb (.500, 4-for-8), Andrew Gross (.353) and Fox (.333) have also been tough at the plate.

Telesmanich sports a 0.79 ERA with 18 strikeouts and only three walks. Swenson is 3-0, with a 2.2 ERA.

“Our defense and pitching are pretty good, but we’re still a work in progress,” said Webster.

The Gladiators play host to Estacada this evening. They have a home-and-away series with Madras next week, entertaining the White Buffalo on Thursday, April 17.

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