By Jeremy McDonald
ALBANY, Ore.– Walking into the game with two outs in the third inning, 2019 South Salem-grad and Chemeketa Community College Elijah Enomoto-Haole knew that this was probably his last outing as a baseball player.
As he forces a ground-out to end the third inning, halting the Linn-Benton Community College rally that turned a 2-1 Storm lead into a 8-2 Roadrunner lead. Having played the sport as long as he remembers Enomoto-Haole points, he was just coming out to have fun despite having a less-than ideal season than he would’ve hoped for as he went to work over the next five innings.
“Beginning of the year I was struggling a lot and then I came out today and let it out there. It’s my last time playing baseball, just gotta let it out there and have some fun,” Enomoto-Haole said.
It was probably an ideal bookending to a long, long career for the former Saxon pitcher. He kept the NWAC South Region Champions scoreless in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Giving his offense an opportunity to see what they can do.
The Storm made it 8-3 in the third, but was held scoreless by a fellow former Salem-pitcher in Sprague’s Jack Muth until Chemeketa scored twice more in the seventh against the former Olympian that drew the game to 8-5.
“It’s something that (Head) Coach (Gerhett) Moser has preached this year. Fill it up and let your defense work. So I did my best to help get us the win and our defense made some plays and that’s how I did good,” Enomoto-Haole said.
Fatigue began to creep in during the seventh inning, going into Enomoto-Haole’s fifth inning of work, and Linn-Benton began to time out the South Salem arm. But Enomoto-Haole stepped up and limited the damage to three runs as he turned the reins to Zach Hart in the eighth inning.
And as he sat in the dugout in the eighth going into the ninth, Enomoto-Haole was sitting. Looking over the dugout wall and took in the game that meant so much about himself.
“It’s taught me a lot about myself. A lot about how to handle adversity that you’re not familiar with and how to deal with it as a man,” Enomoto-Haole said.
Enomoto-Haole went five-and-a-third innings with a strikeout. In 2022, Enomoto-Haole pitched 24-and-a-third innings with 13 strikeouts in 11 games that he appeared in.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald