By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– As longtime North Salem Baseball announcer Carl Shrinkle would say, ‘it was a one-train game’ as one-train drove by Barrick City Field Monday afternoon during the North Salem and Central baseball game. Two if you count the one during the line-up card exchange, but I’m still learning what constitutes a count for the Train Count during a Viking Baseball game five-years in.
But nonetheless, the trains driving by didn’t seem to bother the Panthers as they collected nine hits in their 7-1 win over North Salem Monday. Making it win number three in their past five games after starting the season 0-4.
“It was great because the first few games we were blown out by teams we shouldn’t be blown out by and we come back playing the 6A schools like Sprague and we barely lost (2-1). We’re out here working as hard as we can to be at least a contender,” Central’s Will Meritt said.
Meritt led the Panthers with 2RBI’s in the victory, that started with two quick runs in the first inning. Brandon Komes had turned a RBI triple into an inside-the-park home run when the throw home missed its mark, allowing him to score before the Vikings settled down going to the bottom half of the inning.
North Salem made it 2-1 following a double steal of second and home. Hayden Barth scored the run.
But the Viks couldn’t find consistency on both sides of the ball. Defense had its ups-and-downs despite a strong five innings from Jackson Pearce, striking out six. North Salem’s offense got runners in scoring position against Central’s Malachi McCormick in the third inning and again later on in the game, but couldn’t bring them home to put some pressure on the Panther defense.
“I love it (Pearce) pounds the zone every day, I like it when he’s up there. Coach calls outside, he’s outside. He stays consistent with everything, he has movement on everything,” the Vikings Dillan Brady said. “I feel like we just got to be on our toes. Outfield read the ball a little bit better and put the ball in play. Just clean up the little things, it’s just the little things that we can string together.”
McCormick has been consistent for Central on the bump. Adding to his resume was another six-inning outing and contributing seven-strikeouts to back his offense with the Panthers (3-6) will host McNary (6-3) on Wednesday.
“It feels good. Basically, all pre-season, especially this year, I’ve got more time than ever to go out and play long toss with my dad. It felt really good,” McCormick said about his Junior Year so far. “We came out today, we wanted it. We’re starting to play as a team together. Toe-to-toe, we definitely aren’t the most skilled but we just play together as a team and that’s how we’re getting it done. Playing together.”
North Salem (2-7) will travel to Crescent Valley (5-4) Wednesday evening to play the Raiders.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald