By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It was one of those crazy high-scoring games that had you on the edge of your toes playing.
Two relatively young teams with Salem Academy and St. Paul going at it, the Crusaders in their first-year in 2A and the Buckaroos having a large squad in 1A standards with 24 athletes in their program, met up Monday afternoon. St. Paul would edge their host in eight innings 10-9, but had one point both teams had a four-run lead.
The Bucks struck first, building a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the third inning. Playing strong and taking advantage of the slow start by Salem Academy.
The Crusaders answered, scoring eight runs over the course of the third and fourth innings, giving the vibe that they were on the trek to their first win of the season up 8-4 going into the fifth inning.
“We started off with some inconsistency, there was a play where they had a triple-out on us and we weren’t focused up. Before each play we got to know where we’re at, know the count and know how many outs they are and we just didn’t do that,” the Crusaders Justin Johnson said.
Johnson had hit the then go-ahead two-run single that made it a then 6-4 lead during the five-run fifth inning for Salem Academy. Johnson and Baylor York each drove in 2RBI’s in the game Monday.
But as the Crusaders rallied, so did St. Paul. During the sixth inning, Payson Wiese drove two in off a double and Warren Rose’s sacrifice fly brought the Buckaroos back to within one going into the bottom half of the seventh inning down 8-7.
“We just believed in each other the whole game,” said Rose. “Everyone got each other’s back and we all trusted each other.”
Rose struck out five over the course of the opening three innings of the game, contributing 3RBI’s on 1-for-3 hitting. Wiese pitched to the end of regulation, the fourth through the seventh, settling in with his defense in the sixth and seventh to hold the Crusaders to a Jonathan Coulter-Pride RBI single in the sixth inning.
Elijah Bonham and Clancy Koch pulled the game even in the seventh with RBI singles each respectively. A three-up, three-down inning got the game into extra’s where St. Paul got the decisive run off a Rose error from second, stemming from a Crusader error on a routine throw to first on a ground ball.
Logan Tuck got the save, coming in for Wiese in the eighth, only surrendering a walk in the inning.
“I just had to keep my composure out there, we got the bats going so it was helpful a lot and we got the job done,” Tuck said. “It was a great learning experience to say the least because we know what we need to do the next game if we get done, we’re not going to give up. Once we get that swing of momentum, we’re going to stay with it.”
The two teams meet up again Wednesday at St. Paul for a 4:30pm first pitch, and while the Bucks look to stay unbeaten, the Crusaders will look to finally get over the hump to get their first win of the season.
“We definitely have a lot to work on tomorrow. We’re definitely going to smooth out those errors that we had today,” Johnson said. “We got to be more disciplined. We got to focus up and that’s about it. We just got to get better, we can’t have all of those errors.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald