After three straight losses, including two to start the Greater Valley Conference season, the Saxons needed a win if, for nothing else, to prove their relevance.
South Salem High School’s baseball team made a big step forward in an 8-1 win against North Salem on Friday at Barrick Field, pounding out 12 hits and riding the improving arm of senior pitcher Bryan Kelly.
The Saxons looked like a different team than the one that struggled to get runs in the past week.
“It’s definitely a lot more fun winning,” said senior Tony Phong, who was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. “It’s even more fun that we got every single guy involved in this win.”
The offense was missing from the Saxons (5-7, 1-2) in the past few games.
Well, that and having fun playing the game.
And it may take 12 hits to win any game in the GVC this year.
“This win was really important for us,” said Kelly, who was 2-for-4 with two runs scored at the plate. “Over the last few games, obviously, we weren’t getting hits, we were getting down on ourselves.
“We just weren’t putting it all together. In this game we just got back on it after a good practice yesterday and started the ball and we played defense well and everything came together.”
Kelly has seen his role as a pitcher grow as the season has progressed.
A relief pitcher a year ago, he has earned the shot to get more innings this season between a combination of hitting his spot and mixing up speeds.
He wasn’t overpowering, but he struck out four North Salem batters and held the Vikings (5-7, 1-2) to four hits.
“We always know what we’re going to get out of him,” South Salem coach Chris Riley said. “He’s Mr. Consistency. He’s had a good spring so far. He got a big win down in Arizona for us and he’s not going to blow the ball by you, but he’s effective, throws a lot of strikes.”
A two-RBI single by sophomore Aaron Zavala in the third inning gave the Saxons a 3-1 lead and in the sixth inning Dylan Ulmer hit an RBI-single, Derek White hit a sac fly, Phong hit an RBI-single and Tori Doten hit a sac fly for a 7-1 lead.
A South Salem team of which much was expected started the season 4-7.
With a talented and experienced senior-heavy lineup that kind of start was a letdown, but they hope Friday’s game was the start of the turnaround.
“It’s just kind of a little mojo, a little swagger,” said senior shortstop Gabe Matthews, who was 2-for-2. “Most of these guys I’ve played with and we really haven’t ever captured that swagger.
“I feel like once we get there, we have a lot of talent on this team and that talent can only get us so far, but confidence, especially in baseball, once we get there we’ll be rolling.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler
South Salem 8, North Salem 1
SS 102 004 1-8 12 1
NS 010 001 0-1 4 5
Kelly, Walker (7) and Ulmer; Alvarado, Jolly (6) and Luna. WP- Kelly; LP- Alvarado. 2B- Zavala (SS), Phong (SS), Boatwright (NS), Kelly (SS).