By Jeremy McDonald
SCIO, Ore.– For a team that only has three seniors on their roster, the Salem Academy baseball team has just as many losses on the season en route to a 15-3 overall record and a 13-2 PacWest Conference record, matching that of rival Blanchet Catholic.
The maturity of this Crusader team that has six freshman and two sophomores on it has become exponentially since the start of the season.
“It’s super cool because the freshman have really stepped up and seeing them grow as men and ballplayers, it’s awesome and in big games like on Saturday against Blanchet, they all stepped up and really, they won it for us,” said Zach Aldrich.
“It’s really cool to see them develop.”
What’s been that, they’ve been riding the momentum train from their 13-3 win over the Cavailers on Saturday into their doubleheader versus Jefferson and Gervais as two freshmen in Gage Mack (six-and-a-third innings and 11 strikeouts) and Jadon Mansur (two-thirds of a inning, one-strikeout) combined for a no-hitter over the Lions.
After a shaky start versus the senior-heavy Cougars, Mansur came in during the third-inning and kept Gervais off the board and withstand the Cougs seventh-inning rally for a nine-strikeout performance.
“I wouldn’t want to trade this team for any other team I’ve played with,” said Hunter BeDoya, the senior hit a Grand Slam versus Blanchet for his second homerun and Granny of the season. “They’re a great group of kids and I can’t wait to see what all these freshman do as upperclassmen.”
But for right now, now as they wait and see who they’ll face Thursday in either Jefferson or Colton at home, the trick is now how will this regular season success will translate into the post-season.
And for how young they are, the younger players like Jacob Haller, Greyson Hanowell and Devon BeDoya saw some of what playoff baseball was like with the Santiam Senators over the summer facing some juniors and seniors in Southern Oregon to mix with those who were on the Varsity roster in 2016.
“We just can’t lose the intensity that we’ve built up,” said Hunter BeDoya. “We can’t lose the drive that makes us want to do better…and just sacrifice ourselves for the better of the team.”
“We’ve peaked at the right time going into playoffs, going into State and I think it’s just gave everyone confidence and knowing that we’re one of the top teams in State and contest for that spot,” said Aldrich 4-8 with five Stolen Bases. “So we’re excited, we’re going to be working hard these next couple of weeks and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Hunter BeDoya went 5-7 in the two games Monday with three RBIs and three stolen bases.
Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!
Photos By Jeremy McDonald