By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The NW Stars know how to hit the ball. The NW Stars team that played the Post 20 Dirtbags Wednesday showed that while the NW Stars Roadrunners squad playing at Willamette University did the same Thursday against the Withnell Dodgers.
The Roadrunners jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the Dodgers after the first inning. Withnell cut it to 3-1 in their 7-3 win Thursday, but their defense was strong in keeping the NW Stars off the board waiting for their offense to come around with runs on the board.
“I thought me and (Cole Herschbach) did a good job at that. We kept the ball in the zone today and they hit them where they did, our outfielders did a really good job cutting balls off and keeping guys off second which is huge at this level,” said Cameron Kallhoff.
Herschbach pitched the first four innings of the contest striking out one before Kallhoff came in for relief in the fifth inning, and of the eight hits surrendered by the two pitchers only one resulted in a double by Sam Winter.
The biggest thing, pointed out Michael Soper, was their energy levels. They were flying around in preventing the Roadrunners from possibly living up to their name around the base-paths in the contest entering the bottom half of the fifth inning with the score still 3-1. That energy is something they can carry over to Friday’s game with the Keizer Crushers.
“Definitely just energy. Come out and play with high energy, good focus,” said Soper. “We’ll play our best baseball that way and I think we’ll win.”
That energy paid off in the fifth inning when Withnell began to time out Breeler Mann, eventually tying the game up on a Soper RBI Double at 3.
Max Long gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead and Greyson Hanowell handed Withnell a 5-3 lead entering the sixth inning.
Hanowell made a crucial stop on a Sam Haney single that kept the Roadrunner from possibly turning the hit into an extra base hit. It was the only hit surrendered by Kallhoff as he picked up a strikeout and Soper turned a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
“For the most part I was just trying to throw it in the strike-zone. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it didn’t,” said Kallhoff, who walked his lone batter before the double play. “But if they hit it, I know my defense would have my back so that’s the biggest thing.
“For me to come in I think my first appearance with the Dodgers, I thought it was a little wavery but I think it was good to get a little back into it.”
Kallhoff made it 7-3 Withnell when he drove in Brock McMullen from second base. The North Salem-Sprague battery with McMullen as the catcher helped turn a three-up, three-down inning with Kallhoff striking out the last two batters to ice the Dodgers seventh win of the season.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald