Sandy baseball edges away to beat La Salle 5-2
After two weeks of preliminaries, it's almost "go" time for Oregon's high school baseball teams.
Sandy, looking ahead to the start of Mt. Hood Conference play on April 12, believes it's ready.
La Salle, which kicks off Northwest Oregon Conference play when it hosts Wilsonville at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, knows it better be ready.
Both teams got a late nonleague tuneup on Thursday, March 31, with the Pioneers edging away to beat the Falcons 5-2 at La Salle High School.
"We just hit the ball," said Sandy sophomore outfielder Donavin Crouch, who went 2 for 4 at the plate and scored once. "It was not too bad. We could work on some things, but overall, I think we're doing pretty good."
The Pioneers also benefited from a solid, complete-game pitching performance by sophomore right-hander Matt Kosderka. Kosderka threw all seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out eight.
"I felt good," Kosderka said. "It's what we work hard for and it's why I build up stamina to pitch long games."
With the win, Sandy's fourth straight, the Pioneers improved to 4-3 in nonleague play. La Salle, meanwhile, lost its second straight game and fell to 3-5 overall.
Despite the loss, the Falcons said they found value in playing the Class 6A Pioneers.
"Facing higher velocities like that will help us for league," said La Salle senior outfielder Devin Poling, who went 2 for 3 at the plate with a double. "Especially for our Wilsonville game coming up next week — we'll face higher velocity just like that."
"We definitely have some things to clean up, but I think once we (do), I think we'll be ready to compete," said senior first baseman Aiden McGuire, who went 2 for 3 at the plate with one RBI. "I think we have a good chance as long as we compete at the plate and make good plays in the field."
The Pioneers pushed ahead with three unearned runs in the day's first three innings against La Salle junior starter Finbar O'Brien, beginning in the second when sophomore Aaron Menchaca Olivas walked, took second on a single by senior Carson Kruckman, advanced to third on an error and scored when junior Carson Harrison grounded to short.
There was more trouble ahead for the Falcons in the third when senior Jack Logan and senior Danner Hamberg walked back-to-back with no outs, moved up on steals and scored on a pair of La Salle errors to grab a 3-0 lead.
The Falcons, after managing just a single baserunner in the first two innings, got on the scoreboard in the third when junior Joey Irish led off with a single to center field and junior pinch runner Will Koch took second on junior Seamus Gwynn's bunt, stole third and scored on O'Brien's ground ball to second to close within 3-1.
After a scoreless fourth frame, the two teams traded runs in the fifth, with Sandy getting a single by Crouch off La Salle senior reliever Owen Cote, moving him to third on a two-base error and bringing him home when Kosderka grounded out.
In their half of the inning, the Falcons saw Cote double to right-center field and score with two outs when Koch singled to left to close within 4-2.
But the Pioneers tacked on their final run in the top of the sixth when Harrison singled and later scored on Hamberg's single up the middle.
That was all the cushion Kosderka needed. Poling led off the sixth with a double and took third on an error, but got thrown out at home trying to score on a wild pitch. After that, Kosderka set down five of the game's final six hitters to seal the victory.
"The curveball, I was locating that, getting people to swing through it and miss it, and then I also played off that with the fastball, tried to keep them off balance," Kosderka said.
For their part, the Falcons remained focused on improvement and preparing for conference play.
"I think we just need to work on having a better approach at the plate, hitting fastballs early and just getting in the cages and getting reps," McGuire added.
For the game, Kruckman went 2 for 4 for Sandy, while Aiden O'Brien added a double for La Salle.
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