By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Cue the Titanic ‘It’s been 84 years’ meme, but Opening Day has finally arrived following nearly two years. South Salem Head Coach Max Price pointed out on Twitter it was 682 some-odd days since their last game against Jesuit.
Longer if you added in the two or three-days West Salem had fell to the Saxons in the 6A State Quarterfinals. Teams have a different vibe, new looks and fresh faces that were donning their respective schools’ jerseys as both teams met at the school on the hill in West Salem.
The two pitchers starting Monday were just sophomore arms when the two teams last played in the Titans Kyle Kronenberg and South Salem’s Ricky Alvarado.
Kronenberg was looking to redeem himself against the Saxons after how his previous appearance ended in the playoffs. Starting off the game with a no-hitter going into the fifth before Andy Ruiz broke it up with a single. Ruiz would later score off an error that had tied the game at two entering the bottom of the inning.
“It’s fine, I’ve been going against Ricky for four years and we’ve trained at the same place for a little bit so it’s fun seeing some familiar faces,” Kronenberg said. “It was an all-around game, the first game of the season and both teams have a couple of errors. But it’s nice knocking off the rust and playing against your friends.”
Some of the South Salem guys like Alvarado, Danny Alavardo and Tyler Minney Kronenberg and some of the Titans saw over this past Summer in a summer league at Holland Youth Park. Kronenberg finished the day with seven strikeouts.
The Saxons Alvarado scored the first run of the season for South off a Carson Nelson sacrifice fly-out to right in the second. The Senior arm struck out a game-high eight in four innings as he and Minney are looking to be the two major arms for the Saxons this season.
“Honestly, it was just fun just to have everyone doing so good for it being brand-new to this. New community, new aura basically. It’s fun to see the energy, especially with the new guys. The newer, younger guys. Overall, I’m just happy with what we’ve done,” Alvarado said.
With Central Catholic Tuesday, Alvarado pointed towards their aggressiveness at the plate in being the crucial part in getting into the win column following their 4-2 defeat to the Titans in their season opener. They only collected two hits in the game, one from each Braedy Vogt and Ruiz.
West Salem picked up four hits from four different players. Three of the four came off the extra base hits by way of doubles from Gabe Fletcher and John Kenny as well as a triple by Ben Nagel. Nagel’s triple drove in a run while Kenny’s double drove in 2RBI’s that pushed the Titans ahead 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“It felt good, everyone was staying in the game. It got a little rough after I think the second inning after the two runs we got cold a little bit, but we were able to get some baserunners and I did basically what our coaches taught us to do…put the ball into play and good things will happen. Practice as you play,” said Kenny. “We just got to keep doing what we’re doing, keep playing mental baseball.”
Evan Faust picked up the save in nine pitches in the seventh to seal the win with the West Salem squad traveling to West Albany Wednesday to take on the Bulldogs at 5pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald