By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– One inning.
Though one inning was the difference in the North Salem and Sheldon game in Stayton, the Vikings challenged the defending OSAA 6A defending champions in the 6-1 loss Thursday afternoon.
Head Coach Chris Lee knew that his squad put up a fight against the champs, but knew that the one inning hurt them at the end of the day.
“I thought we played a really well baseball game except for one inning,” said Lee. “We had guys be aggressive in a few base running situations that got thrown out and took runs away from us.
“I mean you have a team on the other side of the field that is the defending state champs and has been in a lot of baseball games, and outside of one inning we played them to a 2-1 baseball game.”
For Cole Hamilton, the senior catcher liked how the game went overall despite some areas of improvement.
“I liked how the freshman weren’t scared, I still think our approach at the plate can get better, (we) watched too many fastballs go by,” he said. “But we competed and played some quality defense, pitched solidly, got some hits when we needed them, but we’ll get there.”
Coming into the St. Patrick’s Day matchup, the Fighting Irish thought they would duplicate their 8-2 result from last year’s season opener to this year’s opener.
Or so they thought.
Sheldon swung the bat well, but the ‘Bend Don’t Break’ Vikings only allowed one run entering the bottom of the third inning.
That’s when, down 1-0, North Salem capitalized on two Sheldon errors when Western Oregon-commit Cole Hamilton came to bat.
Having tried to tie it up once before when Dalton Garza attempted to steal home, Hamilton succeeded with a bomb off the center field fence that resulted in a RBI Double to tie the game up.
Hamilton too tried to take home off an error at first, but was called out at the plate to end the inning.
Having permitted three hits to one run and two walks entering the fourth inning, starter Cameron Jolly began to show fatigue.
Two singles and an out later, the Irish’s Tanner Bass open the flood gates as they tallied four runs in the inning.
For the senior pitcher, he knew there were several moments in that inning that, if the Viks had played it differently, could’ve turned a four-run inning to more of a one- or two-run inning.
“There were a couple of moments, a couple definitive plays (and), we couldn’t make them,” said Jolly. “We got to make the plays that are given to us, we made most of them but there were a couple of plays we could’ve made, but it didn’t happen.
“We had them for most of the game, but that one inning it got away from us a little bit.”
But, the Viks battled.
With facing reliever Geoffery Lillywhite, North managed to put people on base, but couldn’t bring them home.
Hamilton can attribute that to his team doing too much at the plate and to play small ball and move the baserunner over.
“Just playing small ball and moving people over and just playing baseball hoping the ball goes where nobody is,” he said. “Just scoring some balls up and have more opportunities for the ball to find the hole.”
Jolly was replaced by Cash Lyday in the fifth inning, but the freshman was as money as Jolly was in keeping Sheldon off the board the best he can, only allowing one run in three innings of work to keep the game manageable for his squad.
Up next for the North Salem squad will be Westview in the Crater Spring Classic in Central Point, Oregon Monday at 5pm at Anhorn Park.
But for now, the focus is practice tomorrow in preparation for that and for the challenges for the rest of the season.
“We’re going to have a good practice tomorrow and get after it,” said Lee. “We’re still learning some things about our team, we’re not that experienced of a team even with nine seniors. Some of those seniors either took a year off or haven’t played much.”
Lee went on to say that there’s a lot of variation with this roster because of that lack of experience. But he’s going to let time figure itself out and give every kid an opportunity to see what they can do.
Score by Innings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Sheldon 0 0 1 4 0 1 0 – 6 9 4
N.Salem 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 1 2 2
Doubles- Vikings- Hamilton. Stolen Bases- Sheldon- Obermire.
Sheldon IP H R ER BB SO AB BF
Vitus…………… 4 2 1 0 3 3 13 17
Lillywhite……… 3 0 0 0 0 2 10 11
N.Salem IP H R ER BB SO AB BF
Cameron Jolly……. 4 6 5 4 3 2 17 21
Cash Lyday……… 3 3 1 0 0 1 13 13
Win – Vitus. Loss – Cameron Jolly.
PHOTO GALLERY (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81