By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–Wednesday’s game versus West Albany was like any other game.
Both teams arrive, warm-up and took to the field at Schaefer like any other day like clockwork.
With the regular season coming to a close, these days are limited until March, and North came out with a firey passion that they’ve slowly built together during this summer season.
With Cameron Kallhoff pitching, he led the Viks with seven stirkeouts in six innings, he set the pace for the defense. Despite fatigue from Baseball Northwest earlier in the day, Will Tsukamaki sparked the offense with a triple and a single in his first two at-bats.
That single in the second inning resulted in the second run of a five-run inning as a 2-2 tie, balloned out to 7-2 entering the third.
During the summer season, the young Vikings matured and grew together as an unit.
“I think it was the same thing as in the regular season,” said Kallhoff. “We hadn’t really bonded in the beginning of the season and we all came together, became friends and stuff.
“Now we can play around with each other and have fun with the game and we’re doing a little bit better now.”
Uniquely, North had a seventh-grader play with them this season and Danny Alvarado’s 6’2 statue and fantastic performance had many didn’t believe that he was 12 and not 14 or 15. When they forgot, they had to be reminded that this kid still has his best years to come when he enters North Salem High School.
But, if you ask him about his performance, he’ll say otherwise.
“Just keeping up the hard work,” said Alvarado. “Never taking a day off and I just got to work hard, be in every pitch. I thought I didn’t perform as well in the first part of the season, but I started progression since then and I thought that was pretty good of myself.”
For the seventh-grader, he knows that the lessons learned at the next level will help him in the future when he does join the Viks in the future as he’s thankful for the opportunity that the coaching staff at NSHS gave him.
“I’m just thankful to be given this opportunity,” said Alvarado. “I can’t think of anyone else who has given this opportunity, I’m just really greatful for it. I just want to thank Coach (Chris) Lee and Coach (Max) Price for this opportunity.
“And yes it was a big jump, but I think I handled it well. But it’s still baseball, nothing really changes, it’s the same game you play.
The bats slowed a bit, but the defense held strong, holding West Albany to one run come games end after giving up two in the second inning and limiting their errors.
“We’ve been working on it a lot and it’s kind of been a recurring thing throughout the first half of league,” described Kallhoff on the improvement of the defense this season. “We ‘ve struggled on the defensive end, but I think we’re really coming around and we’re doing pretty well.”
By games end, North tallied 12 hits to nine runs; and with a line-up that has the power hitters like Luna Reyes and Joe Dixon to mix in with the speed in the likes of Sean Alvarado,Tsukamaki and Kallhoff.
Mix that with a slowly growin confident defense, the future is bright to make some noise come the spring.
But first, to finish up the summer season, and they’re ready for the challenges ahead when they take on Corvallis at home Thursday at 5pm.
“Just keep the mentality how we have it,” said Luna Reyes. “Keep putting it on them, working hard and control what we can control and that’s how we get the ‘W’.”
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PICTURES (PHOTOS BY JEREMY MCDONALD)