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The Falcons rally around Hays to drop Ridgeview 3-1

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Grant Studdard (left) and Sean Hays celebrate a run in last weeks 3-1 state playoff win over Ridgeview.The tenth-ranked La Salle Falcons got it done in a Class 4A baseball state play-in game with Ridgeview on May 16, rallying around the pitching arm of ace left-hander Sean Hays to drop the 23rd-ranked Ravens 3-1.

Hays pitched the first 5-2/3 innings, striking out 10, walking four, and yielding just three hits and one earned run.

“Sean came out sharp,” said La Salle coach Mike Reed. “He struck out their first four batters. He had all four pitches working, and we played error-free defense behind him.”

Ridgeview, a new high school in Redmond, led briefly, going up 1-0 in the top of the third on a pair of singles, sandwiched around a sacrifice.

La Salle answered with two runs in the bottom of the third frame. Senior outfielder Alex Tetherow got things started with a one-out, ground-rule double to center field. Grant Studdard (2-for-3) beat out a ground ball for an infield single and stole second base. With two-down, senior Sam Eichhorn (2-for-3) ripped a base hit up the middle, plating both Tetherow and Studdard.

The Falcons added insurance in the bottom of the fifth, on a base hit and stolen base by Studdard, and a run-scoring double by Eichhorn.

There was some drama in the top of the fifth, when the Ravens loaded the bases with one down on a base hit and two walks. But Hays toughened up and sent the next two batters down swinging to get out of the jam.

The Ravens also threatened in the sixth, putting runners at first and second with two down on a wild-pitch strikeout and a walk. Norton then took over in relief of Hays and retired the next batter on three pitches, with a groundout to Cam Young at second. And Norton retired the side on 11 pitches in the seventh, when he faced the top of the order.

“They were not a bad ball club,” Reed said. “They played mostly a 5A schedule, and their top four batters were hitting over .400.”

Ridgeview’s Dakota Schaumberg pitched a complete game, striking out six and yielding seven hits.

“The kids were fired up,” Reed said. “Sean was throwing strikes and they played great defense behind him.”

Looking ahead to the 16-team Class 4A state playoffs, Reed said, “We’ve got as good a chance as anyone.”

With the win over the Ravens, the senior-dominated Falcons upped their season record to 20-7. Ranked 10th in the state, the Falcons were to meet seventh-ranked Central (17-9) in a Class 4A playoff game scheduled this afternoon at Central.

“These seniors have made quite a run in their four years,” Reed said. “They’ve made postseason the last three years in a row and some of them were on the 2011 team that lost to Newport in the quarterfinals.... Also, their 20 wins ties for most wins in a season.”

Should the Falcons win in this afternoon’s game, they’ll play a quarterfinal game on Friday with 26th-ranked Elmira (15-10) or second-ranked Newport (17-5), playing Newport (17-5) on the road or hosting Elmira.

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