By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The twilight of the Summer Baseball season has sadly arrived.
In a day which saw Central sweep the Olympian Baseball Club, eyes were also on the Valley Baseball Club Saturday. The squad entered their final doubleheader on this day at Holland Youth Park winning their last six games, their last loss came August 1 against Central 7-4.
The Titans were first up. Kyle Kronenberg pitched six innings, striking out six and allowed one hit that kept Valley within reach as they tied it at one thanks to a two-out single by Jon Kenny in the top half of the seventh inning.
Kronenberg battled with West Albany’s Chase Reynolds, who struck out a game-high 15 batters himself and only surrendered the Kenny run in the seventh in a complete game effort.
“I mean it’s nice, I’ve seen him…it’s just fun pitching against another good pitcher. It turned into a pitching duel more than anything,” said Kronenberg. “It was good. It kept the competitiveness in the game, I don’t know it was fun. Even though we got the loss, it was a good game against a good team and nothing to hang your head about.”
Valley eeked out the game-winning run, jumping on Braden Allison who came in for relief of Kronenberg as Cody Wirth pushed the winning streak to seven in the 2-1 win leading into the season closing game with the Stayton Bandits.
“It was a rough one that game, they got that tying run there. But I think we came together and we did well to get that winning run with Cody with the walk-off. That was a good game, it was a good battle,” said the Bulldogs Simon Mathios.
Mathios continued the Valley pitching dominance, adding ten strikeouts of his own in five-and-two-third innings as the bats slowly hit their stride by the fourth inning of their 8-3 victory. Scoring seven runs over the final three innings of the game after seeing Cascade’s Caleb Boyles holding them to a Brandon Reed (Salem Academy) second inning solo blast to break a then 0-0 game.
“I know Chase was feeling his change-up a lot because he was working it with his grip, I know he was working with that a lot today. I was trying to mostly work fastball-low, but it got away from me a little bit…but hey it was a pretty good day for both of us,” said Mathios. “We been doing really good (as a team) and it felt good coming in these games with all this confidence. I think we all thought we weren’t going to lose and we had that mentality so we just got after it.”
The Bandits jumped on Winstead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Seniors playing their final game in Bryce Campbell, TJ Marquez and Will Ramos got on base. 2020 Stayton-grad Jared Mitchell followed, singling to bring Campbell home to get Stayton on the board against the Southwestern Oregon Community College pitcher.
Mitchell had the lone multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with an RBI, knowing this summer season put to bed their prep careers the way they wished it would’ve happened during the school year.
“It was a life saver. I know not from my perspective as a recent graduate, but from every Senior that graduated this year, it was one last hurrah,” said Mitchell, who pitched the seventh inning with two strikeouts. “We didn’t leave it on the field our Junior year. If this league weren’t having been here, it gave us the final chance to give it our last go and we left everything on the field.”
With the bases loaded, the Bandits mustered a David Kanoff hit-batter and a Tommy McGuire walk to get their final two runs of the season before Winstead closed it out with a strikeout.
Two long months came down to one more day of baseball. Memories were made, home runs were hit and strikeouts were recorded. The boys of summer came, they saw and they dominated the diamond one more time as the sun went down on this Saturday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald