By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.– North Salem’s Corbin Torres came into a tough situation. The rain was coming down, Kaeden Fitzgerald struggling to find his groove and Central threatening to turn the 3-0 lead into a wider margin with the bases loaded with one out.
Torres held the rallying Panthers to two runs over the course of the next three batters. Taking the reins in the four innings, giving his offense an chance to chip away at the hole they were in down 5-0 after the first half-inning.
North Salem pulled to within four, 7-3, by the end of the fourth inning. The score held going into the sixth as the Viks couldn’t capitalize on the few opportunities they had on Central’s Evan Beaver and Kellen O’Malley.
“Our starter, Fitz, he didn’t have the best of starts so I would say it felt good to come in and slow them down. Throwing strikes helps a lot, throwing strikes in the hard weather like that is hard. But when you’re throwing strikes, you get dudes out,” Torres said.
“Making the routine plays will help our team a lot and it’s going to bring us in big ways…so just making plays and keeping us in the zone.”
Torres had a game-high five strikeouts as everyone battled not just the rain, but the blistery wind that had the feel of Week 1 of the season and not midway through the season as it is.
It was a mental test. Pitchers, catchers, batters and defenders. But everyone stepped up to the challenge give to them in the Mid-Willamette Conference contest.
“We were locked-in mentally the whole time. So that was always nice,” Central’s Malachi McCormick said.
McCormick had a game-high three hits in the 14-3 win, two coming in the top half of the sixth inning that saw the Panthers turn the 7-3 into the eventual final score.
Swinging momentum fully into their favor as O’Malley only surrendered a Hayden Barth single in the bottom half of the sixth inning to close out the squads third-straight win and their fifth in their last six games.
“It was really big. We’ve been waiting for that inning for a while now and it was nice to see it and I knew we could get it,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley and Beaver each struck out two batters in the win. Barth and Aiden Mashos each led North Salem with two hits apiece.
The Panthers host Corvallis Friday while the Vikings head to Corvallis to play Crescent Valley on Friday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald