By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—There preseason finale against West Linn Friday wasn’t to the liking of that of Thursday’s walk-off victory against Sherwood.
But for six of the seven innings of the 6-1 victory versus a Lions team that lost in the 6A Title game in 2015, the Vikings (4-5) held West to a solo run before the Lions broke the game open in the seventh inning.
The defense, led by starting pitcher Cole Hamilton, was impressive with strong plays and strong pitching by the senior in six-plus innings of work.
A defense that has been a strength of the team, having shutout teams 24 of their last 29 innings played.
“We do fundamentally things every day for our own position,” described Hamilton on the defense. “Catchers, we do blocks, framing, shifts everything. Infielders do DPs and stuff, so I think we’re rolling hot into (Greater Valley Conference play) right now. We’re rolling in real hot.”
Though his defense gave up five runs in the Top half of the seventh-inning and nine hits total versus West Linn, Hamilton knows they can fix it between Friday’s game and Tuesday’s GVC-Opener versus McNary.
“Today I thought we blew a couple balls around,” said Hamilton. “Made a misplay in Center Field, but good hustle to the ball. It happens, it’s a effort thing, we’ll be alright, but we’re solid usually. Nothing changes really, effort level really.”
The Vikings have outscored opponents 19-10 during their last four games however including today’s game, all four games coming in unison of another.
But North Salem Head Coach Chris Lee, the 20-year Veteran knows it’s another day in the office.
“It’s not that much of a grind, the four games in four days thing is nothing,” said Lee. “We haven’t done it for a while but it makes it a little bit of a challenge but baseball wise, we’re playing or practicing everyday and our practices are longer than a game.”
The game today was an hour, 50 minutes and Lee pointed out that their practices are pushing three hours.
Another emeragence from Friday’s game with GVC-play is on the horizon, was the Vikings bats that exploded for seven hits against the Lions as they continue to focus on their approach at the plate.
One of those hits included an RBI double from Jacob Pfenning in the bottom of the seventh inning that followed a Noah Boatwright triple that started the inning as the Viks continued to fight until the end.
“I thought it was great,” said Pfenning on the fight. “Going down to the last inning 6-0 is really hard. I thought our dugout was loud. Even though it was a run, I thought we fought hard. We dug deep.”
That fight, that ‘North Salem Baseball’ that you can hear from the team, will help fuel this squad to win a Greater Valley Conference title this season.
“We fight for each other, it’s what North Salem baseball is,” said Pfenning. “Looking out for another, we’ve all played together for a long time so we all want it just as much. It’s all about how much we want it.”
Hamilton knows as well if they want to achieve Goal Number One of winning a GVC Title is worry about themselves. Worry about North Salem and each other on the team.
“To take the league is our number one goal and just play good baseball,” said Hamilton. “We’re ready to go. We’re going for that league title this year. It’s my last year here. We have a bunch of seniors on our team, eight or nine. It’s our last year and that’s what we’re striving for.
“All we can worry about is ourselves. Like I said the other night, just worry about the ‘NS’ and pinstripes.”
Lee has all the confidence in the world in this team moving into league with all the experience they’ve gained through this season. The fight, the improvements, Lee is excited with how prepared his team is.
“I like it, we’ve played good competition and when you play good competition you find out if you’re doing alright,” said Lee. “We just hung with one of the teams that played in the state championship last year for 6A for six innings before they pulled away. But we were there with them every step along the way and I think it’s prepared us.
“We’ve played the number one, the number three and number eight team in the state. That’s going to help us be ready for the league action.”
SCORE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 – T H E
LIONS 0 0 0 1 0 0 5 – 6 9 0
VIKINGS 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 – 1 7 1
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