By Jeremy McDonald
BEAVERTON, Ore.– When Elijah Enomoto-Haole took over on the hill for Gavin Fredinburg, he found himself walking into a Dragons Den of sorts with the bases loaded with two outs and balls-and-strikes on the board and the tying run 90 feet away from home in a 4-3 ball-game under the lights.
Before his first pitch in a adversity-filled game knowing that teams are going to be gunning for them because of their ranking in State, Enomoto-Haole took off his hat and look inside his bill of his hat to three words:
Family. His Mom and the 808.
“You always remember where you come from and just battling through it,” Enomoto-Haole said of those three things as he put his cap back on and went to work striking out the Aloha High School batter.
From the outside of the netting, some groans from the Warriors side of the stands and a sigh of relief from the Saxons side of the stands as coming back from the dugout Enomoto-Haole and his teammates were fueled by the frustrations of the game as Enomoto-Haole let out a excited yell as he went to the dugout for the Top of the sixth inning.
For the first time since West Albany on April 3 or even Capital of Idaho on March 29 in Boise, Idaho, South Salem was pushed and they had to find someway to respond. Show that they are one of the best teams in 6A no matter who was in front of them pushing them to the final outs of the game.
The bats that were rolling in the first inning when the Saxons went through the line-up once and scored four runs going into the bottom half went cold against the Aloha defense after that inning as the Warriors challenged South Salem by making contact with Fredinburg’s pitches to make the Saxon defense work for the win.
At 5-9 entering the game, Aloha proved that was just a number on a spreadsheet as they used a two-out rally to tie the game up at four entering the seventh inning. Seemingly as if it woke the monster up from the cage, South Salem started the top half of the inning with a Noah Ferguson double that the junior turned into a steal opportunity as he was 90 feet away with Sean Alvarado at the plate.
“I just knew I had to get on, I had Sean and Zav(ala) coming up behind me and I knew if I got on they’ll find a way to get me in,” said Ferguson. “Sean showed bunt, drew the guy inward which gave me an opportunity to steal third and we were able to put pressure on that way. The guy threw pretty well, but we were able to put some pressure on him.”
A wild pitch after Ferguson’s steal allowed him to take home to give the Saxons back the lead at 5-4 and South Salem didn’t let up as picked up three more runs to challenge the Warriors in their final three outs of the game against one of their best pitchers in Ryan Brown.
Brown made sure that Aloha did not sniff the lead again as the junior, with two outs, bare-handed a ground-ball by the mound that looked all but going to be an infield single and hummed the ball at Kaiden Doten at first-base for the final out of the ball game.
Now, with their first game of four straight out of the way Monday night, the Saxons know that they are capable of getting out of tight games like this with a win even though they didn’t play necessarily their best baseball.
“It’s just big for us, when we get into a big situation like that bases loaded, your whole team has your back,” said Enomoto-Haole. “I know these guys had me and just to get out of that, get the momentum going up for Aloha again, we play Forest Grove on Thursday and then we pick right back up with West (Salem), I think today was a good game for us.”
“I think we can learn that we did not play our best game tonight and that we’re capable of a lot more. Just coming out tomorrow and just coming out pounding right away, getting right at it again like we did tonight and just keeping that all the way through,” adds Ferguson. “They’re throwing their good guy tomorrow, so that will be fun to hit against him, we just got to come out with the energy we started with tonight and just keep the pedal down.”
First pitch between Aloha and South Salem on Wednesday is at 5pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald