By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Though they are ‘young’ on paper, they’ve carried a ton of experience into their second game of the season versus St. Helens.
Names like Cameron Kallhoff, Will Tsukamaki, Nick Raska, Reyes Luna to name a few who saw valuable Varsity time last season as North Salem came to life late in the season to make the playoffs once again.
Other names like Zach Goodwin and Jared Lund saw some experience themselves over the summer league play under Head Coach Chris Lee, seeing what he’s looking for as their Varsity coach as they enter the varsity level this season.
Though rusty entering the fifth inning for not having played since March 16 versus Glencoe, the Vikings held a 3-1 lead as their sophomore pitcher in Kallhoff was finding his groove on the mound for the season to come following RBI hits by Tsukamaki and a sacrifice hit by Luna with the bases load allowed North Salem to take the lead with the rain arriving.
“I feel like we got to a really good start, we were hitting the ball, we were making good plays,” starts Kallhoff. “We were making all the routine plays that we need to, then towards the end we started to fall off that. We need to do a better job of hanging onto that for the whole game.”
In the top of the fifth, some mental miscues allowed the Lions to roar back into the game and the lead with a four-run fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning.
As the rain picked up a little bit, St. Helens Joe Rea and Joey Binam were finding ways to keep the bats of the Viks at bay to stay out in front as you could tell this game stung on the faces of this team.
There’s lessons that they can take away from a game like this as they get back to work with practice.
“I think getting better reads on fly balls and staying at it when we’re up,” said Tsukamaki. “We have to keep our foot on the gas pedal all the time and not letting them comeback into games like that.”
“This is really good for us,” adds Kallhoff. “We’ve been through a whole game in the game, knowing what it’s like to be cold and having to have all that grit and heart to be able to have the foot on the gas pedal the whole game and be ready for everything that comes to you.”
But, they got a great opportunity to get this sour taste out of their mouths Monday down in Medford for the Crater Tournament at Crater High School and Grants Pass High School in Grants Pass.
“If we play well, we’ll let the chips fall where they may,” said Lee. “You always want to battle and win, but we just need to play well and our kids need to take some satisfaction after playing well. We didn’t play well tonight, there’s no satisfaction with how we play today.”
They know that this competition will be tough next week with North facing Century (Monday, 1pm Crater High), Liberty (Tuesday, 2pm Crater High), Franklin (Wednesday, 2pm Crater High ), and Grants Pass (Thursday, 1pm Grants Pass High School) with North Salem looking to use Spring Break as a springboard for league in April.
“It’s going to be really good for us because we’re going to be able to have that kind of experience to more high-velocity pitches, less errors by other teams and all together better baseball on the other end of the field,” said Kallhoff. “That’s going to be good for us because we’ll know what it’s like and how we need to play to come out on top of those games.”
“The Medford tournament is awesome, I love going there,” said Tsukamaki. “I had a good time there last year”
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