Molalla drops league openers to Madras
Molalla's recent losing streak continues, this time against Tri-Valley Conference competition. On Friday, April 6, the Molalla baseball team was defeated on the road 7-3 by the Madras White Buffaloes.
The loss marked Molalla's fourth in a row, and dropped the team below .500 to 4-5 overall. Madras meanwhile improves to 6-3 overall, and 1-0 in conference play.
"We just couldn't get a big inning together with our bats and our pitching wasn't on," Molalla head coach Jim Dantona said after the game. "I believe we have a really talented team, young but talented. I really think we will be in the hunt all season long."
Molalla actually out-hit the home team seven hits to three, but a total of 11walked batters and three hit gave Madras more than enough people to bring into home.
Molalla was not without its bright spots in the game, however. Senior Braden Hibbs drove in the first run for his team, and senior Kolten Jordan got two hits and run drive in as well.
Molalla rematched Madras in a home game on Monday, April 9, and the result was even worse. Madras dominated the game late to defeat the home team 13-3 after seven innings.
Dantona believes his young team has promise and can beat anyone in the league. They just need to gel together more smoothly, and get in sync.
"This year we have a lot of new players," Dantona said. "I think part of the problem is with young athletes, we have to get them in sync. This year we lost some good seniors and players. I think we have a talented team, but we have to get our ducks in order to get ourselves to get where we need to be. I think by the time the season ends, we'll be the hunt."
Molalla scored a run in the first three innings, but was unable to get anything going offensively afterwards. Sophomore Dylan Wynn scored Molalla's first run, stealing third base, and then making it across home plate on a Madras error. In the second inning, senior Kolten Jordan made it around the bases on the back of senior Matt Roark's sacrifice hit and Molalla had tied the game up at 2-2. In the top of the third inning, Madras took off and scored four runs. With the home team at a deficit heading into bottom of the inning, they would need some serious offensive output. The team only scored one run, however, when Wynn once again rounded the bases. Sophomore Linden Mackenzie was credited with the run batted in.
Offensively, the team was muted over the next four innings, and the game finished with Madras up 13-3. Molalla fell to 4-6 overall, 0-2 in Tri-Valley Conference play. Madras sits at the top of the league with a 7-3 record.
Molalla next plays Gladstone (6-5 overall, 2-0 in TVC play) on Fridday, April 13.
"Gladstone is well coached and we need our bats to come alive, we need to cut down on our mental mistakes, and we need to somehow get the key pitches against key batters," Dantona said. "(Sophomore) Damien (Pingo) and (junior) Jeff Larsen understand where to go. We play small ball, and we can win with that. If we turn bunting, stealing, and hit and run on, we can take a victory away in this game."
Despite the 0-2 start in league, Dantona knows that through teamwork and determination, Molalla can work its way back to the top of the league.
"We need to bow our necks and get it done," Dantona said.