By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—This had all the makings of a Elite 8 battle. Prep Baseball Report (PBR) had West Salem fifth, Sprague nine. West Salem’s Ben Nagle had even dubbed it the ‘Salem World Series’ as both teams met for the only time this season Monday afternoon.
“It’s crazy. This is a lot of fun, this is probably the most fun game of the year for me,” the Titans Andrew Todd said. “Really loud. It’s a good game, it’s always fun playing them.”
“It was a great game. Both teams went at it, they had the upper-hand but that’s baseball,” adds the Olympians Brandon Stinnett.
The berm was loud. Fans spaced out around the field to watch Sprague jump out to a 4-0 lead going into the fourth inning in West Salem’s 7-5 victory. Stinnett hit a lead-off solo home run off Kyle Kronenberg to start the game with the Olys slowly pushing their lead out behind the strong start of Jack Muth.
Kronenberg settled in. Limiting Sprague to a run in the second and third before the volcanic eruption happened in the fourth.
Six runs on three hits, two walks and two hit-batters shifted momentum from the Olympians to in favor of the Titans. West Salem led 6-4 going to the bottom half of the fourth after the rally. Damaging a promising outing for Muth who finished striking out three in three-and-two-third innings pitched.
“We started off slow and then we just adjusted. Started to get little base-hits here and there and made runs,” Todd said, who had 2RBI’s in the game on 3-for-4 hitting.
The Titans held Sprague scoreless in the fourth, surrendered a Dayton Walker RBI single that brought Carsen VanKempen home before answering it in the sixth with a Wilson Neitzel RBI single.
Relief pitching came through in the clutch. Neitzel’s RBI was the only one against Quinn Altman and Brett Hassoun continued to keep the peace with the Olympian defense following the fourth.
BJ Amador came in the sixth for Kronenberg, who went five innings with three strikeouts as Amador struck out three in three innings.
Maintaining the lead even though Sprague loaded up the bases in sixth and a base-runner in the bottom of the seventh with the Titans winning streak reaching ten. West Salem has South Salem Wednesday at Gilmore Park.
The loss was hard for the Olys, who suffered just their third defeat of the year, but it serves as good motivation as they change their focus to Saturday’s doubleheader with McNary.
“Just using it as fuel and yeah,” Stinnett said. “The start of the game was great, but we need to keep that intensity throughout the whole game. We kind of lost it once they started getting some and we needed to get it back.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald