BEAVER TOWNSHIP — The Salem Quakers baseball squad is in the midst of a special winning streak. Saturday afternoon they enjoyed solid starting pitching and manufactured a seventh inning run to knock off the state-ranked South Range Raiders 4-3 in a tournament-type, hard-fought non-conference contest.
The victory is the Quakers’ 12th in a row and improved their record to 13-3 on the season. In addition, they are 6-3 in EBC play. The Raiders fall to 11-2 on the year, 4-1 in NE-8 action.
“I don’t know how many high school teams have a pitching staff that can go through five straight days with five different starting pitchers and has that many good arms,” Salem coach Mike DeBarr said. “Our pitchers go right at people, so we play good defense behind them because we know the ball is going to be in play. And offensively, we have been on a roll for a couple of weeks now.”
Salem senior pitcher Brock Young pitched a complete-game six-hitter to pick up the victory while striking out eight Raider batters and surrendering one walk. Of the three runs the Raiders scored in the game, only one was earned.
Twice in the game Young came up big on the mound by shutting down the Raider bats. In the fourth, the Raiders had loaded the bases with three consecutive singles, but Young got Stevie Rohan to hit a one-hopper to third baseman Gavin Wilms who threw home to start a double play and killed the Raiders rally.
“We failed to execute,” Raiders coach Jim Hanek stated. “No one out, that hurt us. In my opinion, that was the difference-maker in this one. Credit to the Salem pitcher. He did a great job of keeping us off-balanced. He was able to command his fastball and his off-speed stuff today.”
Young would repeat the act in the bottom of the seventh when Tyson Tarajack led off the inning with a solid single to left. Then following a strikeout, Young got Corey Penick to hit a one-hopper back to the mound then wheeled around to start a 1-6-3 double play to clinch the victory.
“My fastball was working early on in the count and I was trying to pound the zone. I think I only had 17 balls (called), which is a pretty good accomplishment. I got them swinging a little bit,” Young reflected on his performance.
“That was probably the best I have seen him in a couple of years as far as efficiency strike-wise,” DeBarr remarked. “He went right at them. He trusted his defense and that is what we want our pitchers to do.”
After the Raiders had scratched out three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at 3-3, the Quakers manufactured a run in the top of the seventh to escape with the win.
Jackson Johnson led off the seventh with a hit to left field that fell just inside the left-field foul line. With Jackson at third and Carson Rhodes at second following a walk and double steal, Quakers’ senior first baseman Corey Riesen smashed a hard-hit ball to the Raiders’ second baseman. But the ball came up and bounced off the Raiders defender and kicked sideways to allow Johnson to race home with the winning run.
“That’s baseball. It happens,” Hanek said about the hard-luck error. “It was moving along the ground and it kind of kicked up on him and got on the heel of the glove. That is his first (error) of the season.”
The Quakers took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning when Rhodes led off with a single followed by a walk to Riesen and then Young helped himself with a single to left field to drive Rhodes home.
They would add to their advantage in the sixth inning when Wilms led off the frame with a base hit to center followed by a double to left-center by Rhodes. With runners at second and third and no one out, DeBarr pulled Riesen for a pinch-hitter in Hunter Carlisle who took advantage of the opportunity and laced a single up the middle to drive home both Wilms and Rhodes, staking the Quakers to a 3-0 lead.
“We have confidence in Hunter,” DeBarr stated. “He swings a good bat and he always comes through. He pinch-hits a lot for us.”
The Raiders answered in the bottom of the sixth when Penick reached on an error followed by a hit by Logan Cormell and a one-out walk to Dylan Dominguez. Following an RBI groundout by Rohan to get the Raiders on the scoreboard, Billy Skripac beat out a grounder to short to bring Cormell home. But the ball kicked off the first baseman’s glove allowing the speedy Dominguez to race home from second and tie the game at 3-3.
The Quakers are not scheduled to play again until Wednesday when they host the Louisville Leopards in non-conference play. The Raiders look to bounce back when they play league foe, Struthers, at Cene Park Monday.
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