John Wright returned to his old stomping grounds Thursday for the first time as Salem’s varsity baseball coach.
The experience was one to cherish for Wright and his squad.
The Rocks scored four times in the top of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie and defeat Canton 6-2. Moreover, junior pitcher Eric Scott threw a complete game victory in the Kensington Conference crossover.
“It’s awesome for me,” Wright said. “Coming from Canton it’s great to win the first time we get to play them.”
Things got a bit tense for the Rocks, however. After Salem went up 2-0 thanks to single runs in the second and sixth innings, the Chiefs scored twice in the bottom of the sixth.
“We gave up three errors in the sixth and got them back in the game,” Wright said. “He (Scott) was cruising pretty good. But what a job to come back.”
However, Canton head coach Mark Blomshield said Aaron Miller’s gapper to right-center officially was ruled a base hit to spoil Scott’s no-hit bid.
“He was running back in the gap,” noted Blomshield, in a text message. “(Ball) hit tip of glove.”
Victimized by the onslaught was Canton pitcher Noah Spencer, usually a starter who was brought in to open the seventh. Starting and going five innings was Nick Sprosek, with Mitchell Zelenak pitching the sixth.
“He (Spencer) hasn’t pitched since last week, he needed a bullpen,” Blomshield explained after the game.
Salem (15-8) started the winning rally when Griffin Shminski led off with a single, followed by one off senior shortstop Josh Penn’s two hits.
Penn’s keystone partner, second baseman Erich Payne, brought home Shiminski with another hit and the Rocks made it 4-2 when senior third baseman Brandon Gillen doubled.
Capping the surge with a two-run hit to right was junior Alex Nicholson.
Scott hit the first Canton batter in the bottom half, but then retired Justin Dolney and Cody Zidzik on popups before fanning Noah Spencer to end the game.
The lanky Salem pitcher smiled when asked about his offense-stifling performance.
“I looked up at the scoreboard in the fifth inning and I noticed I had a no-hitter so I was like, I might as well try to get it,” Scott said.
He admitted not having his best stuff until the latter stages, but pointed to his middle infielders as always having his back.
“I’m really confident with my two guys up the middle, Josh Penn and Erich Payne, they always turn the double plays for us,” Scott continued. “I know if I get them a ground ball with a guy on first it’s always a double play.”
According to Blomshield, whose team dropped to 16-12, the defeat continued a season of inconsistency.
Last Saturday, the Chiefs mercied the top-ranked team in the state, Bay City Western, by an 18-4 score. Earlier this year, they topped No. 2 Saline.
Yet games like Thursday happen too often for Blomshield’s liking, especially with the Division 1 pre-district game against Westland John Glenn less than two weeks away.
“We need to start hitting the baseball again,” Blomshield said. “We’ve just been up and down all year. We’ll win five games and lose four. Just inconsistent and we’re still making some young mistakes.
“We just got to find out if we have that fire or not. If we have the fire we can play good, if we don’t we’re pretty ordinary.”