By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– South Salem’s Cole Weiland was efficient and executed his pitches to the best of his ability Wednesday afternoon at Volcanoes Stadium against McNary. Going the full seven inning, throwing 76 pitches, striking out six in the process as the Saxons defeated the Celtics 7-1 to improve to 2-0 in Central Valley Conference play.
Just having fun with the game is what the senior is trying to do, points Weiland, a Whitworth University-commit, who was coming off another strong showing for his team on the hill in this latest outing.
“I kept the ball low and got some outs, got some fly-balls and ground balls. I felt like we did pretty well defensively today. This year I kind of focus on playing the game of baseball and having some fun out here, so that’s what I’m trying to do. This is pretty fun,” said Weiland, who was also 2-for-4 with 2RBI’s at the plate.
McNary didn’t make this game easy for the Saxons however. Noah Fischer got the start for the Celts, and outside of a few hiccups during the first four innings of the game, McNary found themselves in the ball game trailing South Salem 3-0 going into the fifth inning. A vast difference from the 8-0 game they had found themselves in Tuesday at the same spot of the contest in the three-game series opener down the road at McNary high School.
The lone kryptonite to this strong start was their offense. They were able to make contact against Weiland, but couldn’t find the gaps in the Saxon defense to draw South Salem in further going into Friday’s series finale back at McNary.
“It was the confidence with our team and pitching. It was the pitching, but the defense…we were all catching barrels. Top half of our lineup caught a bunch of barrels, but we just couldn’t find the gaps,” Fischer said. “(Friday) is a big game. It’s going to show us where we are as a team, we’re pitching one of our best guys and they’re pitching one of their better guys, so it’s going to be a battle. But we’re going to go out with grit and play as hard as we can.”
Fischer finished with four strikeouts in four innings before handing things over to Anthony Cepeda, who struck out two over the final two innings of the game.
South Salem would separate themselves from their McNary counterparts in the bottom half of the fifth inning with a three-run inning, before the Celtics scored their lone run of the game in the sixth off an Jordan Araiza sac-fly in the sixth inning. The Saxons would add an insurance run the next inning to help close out the 7-1 win.
First pitch for Friday’s finale will be at 5pm.
By Jeremy McDonald