By Jeremy McDonald
MONMOUTH, Ore.– They’re was a sense of honor of being able to be playing at these big baseball tournaments for North Salem.
I mean, it’s not every day you get to play at a NCAA Division-II field like Western Oregon or play in their tournament any day.
“It’s pretty good,” said Will Tsukamaki. “I just feel blessed that we got the opportunities to play at fields like these, it’s really nice.”
And the Vikings didn’t squander the opportunity when they open their tournament play with a decisive 12-3 win over Wilson thanks in part to great defense and 16 hits behind a even better offense as they turn their focus to the Northwest Naturals 15’s at noon Saturday at Western.
“I thought we came out mentally strong defensively and offensively,” said Luna Reyes. “(We) made plays and backed our pitchers up and we got the ‘W’.
“We just got to keep the same momentum, the same mentality. Not let up and keep the foot on the throttle and keep pushing on.”
Joe Dixon three-run double followed by one-run triple by Cameron Kallhoff and Jake Mason added one more to make it 9-0 after 1 and a half. North had 10 hits through two offensive innings after opening up the game with four runs.
“I think we’ve had a struggle with slower pitches but today, we kind of kept our weight back and we adjusted to it and I think we did a really good job of getting the bats to the ball and letting them make the plays,” described Kallhoff on the outstanding offensive output.
Kallhoff allowed two hits in two innings pitched before Zach Goodwin took over on the hill.
Goodwin got out a two-out, runners on second and third with a strikeout to hold Wilson to three hits after three innings.
“Defense has been the thing we’ve been struggling too, we’ve had two or three errors a game,” said Kallhoff. “But today, I think we did a good job. We did better and we were more focus before the game.
“We’ve worked on defenses and stuff and it’s paying off.”
In the fourth Luna Reyes had the nicest play defensively at third base when he caught a line drive for a out and dove for the bag for another out for the nice athletic play by the big man.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” said Reyes. “I mean I got the ball and I thought, ‘next play’ so I had to dive and made a bang-bang play, so I thought it was pretty cool.”
The inning ended by a nice stretching out by Dixon at first to end the inning as the shutout was in tact through four.
Despite a 1,2,3 inning in the fourth inning, the bats of the Vikings came to life once more capped with Brian Bernal hit into a Wilson error as the tenth run of the day for North came home.
The lone hiccup in the opener was in the bottom of fifth when Wilson scored three to avoid the 10-run rule, something that Kallhoff thinks they need to improve on entering Saturday’s game; but he did like how they respond with two runs in the top half of the sixth inning in the victory.
“I think we need to improve on finishing,” started Kallhoff. “I think we could have closed them out in the fifth inning, but we let them score a couple runs.
“We did a good job of coming up, coming out and score two runs after they scored three, it’s a really good to stop their momentum when they score that many runs.”
Kallhoff was responsible for one of those two runs with a sac RBI hit after Dixon’s one-run triple in the pervious at-bat as Danny Alvarado closed out the game in relief.
North will take on the boys from Northwest Naturals 15’s at noon at Western Oregon’s baseball field.
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PHOTO GALLERY (PICTURE BY JEREMY MCDONALD)