By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The North Salem 13 already proved that they can compete with Sprague Friday when Cameron Kallhoff on the bump when the Olympians took Game One of the series 5-4 in North Salem.
Fast forward through the weekend and the series switched venues, but the Viking certainly didn’t shy away with Zach Goodwin on the bump for them as Reyes Luna led the first inning charge with a two-RBI base hit to spark a five-run first inning for North Salem as they went out to play defense.
“It was good coming in and pitch with the lead and it was less stressful, it felt good being able to trust my guys behind me,” said the quiet Goodwin who pitched three-and-a-third innings Monday afternoon on the road with three strikeouts.
But, with Sprague looking to stay in firm control of third-place with four-Greater Valley Conference losses, began chipping away at the lead.
A run in the third thanks to Michael Soper, then two more in the fourth to make it 5-3 Vikings as both teams defense proved clutch in both team’s circumstances entering the bottom of the seventh as the Olys looked to turn on that clutch-factor one more time as they looked for the series sweep.
Sprague got runners on second and third against North Salem’s August Hagwell before they brought in Will Tsukamaki in for relief with Michael Murphy at the plate with the tying run at second and one out on the board.
“It’s really important to stay calm and I was just trying to stay in there and throw strikes and let my defense work. I was pretty focused, I wasn’t thinking about much,” said Tsukamaki. “I was just thinking about throwing strikes and my nerves weren’t really too high.”
Tsukamaki forced Murphy to fly-out, but Murphy brought in a run and advance the tying run to third with two outs on the board before forcing Will Deloretto to fly-out to end the game with the 5-4 result.
Frustrations were high for Sprague knowing that if West Albany sweeps North Salem in their series, the Bulldogs and the Olympians would be tie for third in the GVC Standings if it happens. And as they clean up the field after the game, they knew they had a chance to comeback in the game like they have before only to come up just shy of accomplishing it as they now prepare for a two-game series with Beaverton (Wednesday and Friday) and a game versus Sheldon (May 15), this game will definitely serve as a eye-opener for those three contest.
“We’ve done it multiple times already this season, but just flat-out we didn’t clutch up when we needed to do be clutch and I am one of those people so, I mean we’ve done it before but we just couldn’t do it tonight,” said Deloretto, who pitched two innings with a strikeout and allowed two hits to no runs in 26 pitches. “I can tell you right now practice tomorrow and Wednesday is going to be a lot different because we are ready for the playoffs and we’re going to go to the second-round this year.
“We’re tired of it, losing to team’s we shouldn’t be losing to this year and I can speak for myself and for everybody and I think we’re done with this. We should be winning these games, I mean (North Salem) is a great team obviously but we just need to hit better than we did. So I think we’ll come out strong against Shledon and Beaverton and we’ll be ready for the playoffs.”
With the Vikings sitting 31st in the State with two league games left against that West Albany team looking to pull even with Sprague in the league standings, they know this is when the postseason starts for them as they fight to stay in the playoff conversation beyond May 10.
“The next few games are huge because they are like playoffs, they decide playoffs or not and we just need to soak in our win and move on to the next and not celebrate it too much,” said Goodwin as him and his North Salem teammates open the series with the Bulldogs on Wednesday.