Friday, June 21, 2024

Hail Taft! Tigers roll to seventh straight baseball win

Photos by Eric DeMello

Hail Taft

Considering his status as leadoff hitter and team captain, who better to set the stage for the Taft High baseball team’s undeniable success than senior shortstop Josh Salsbery?

Josh Salsbery
Josh Salsbery

“Everyone is swinging the bat well, guys are playing their positions to their full potential, and it’s showing,” Salsbery said Monday after the No. 1-ranked Tigers overcame a hailstorm and blustery weather to roll to a 13-1 West Valley League home victory over Willamina in five innings.

Tyee Fisher
Tyee Fisher

Left fielder Tyee Fisher drove home two runs on three extra-base hits, and fellow juniors Kam Kessler and Bleiz Kimbrough combined on a one-hitter as first-place Taft won its seventh straight game to improve to 13-2 overall and 5-0 in league play.

Bleiz Kimbrough
Bleiz Kimbrough
Kam Kessler
Kam Kessler

The Tigers, who have outscored their opponents 43-2 in the last four games, scored like the cloudburst that interrupted play with four runs in the first, five in the second, three in the third and one in the fourth behind nine hits, including two each from senior first baseman Jack Stempel and sophomore catcher Eli DeMello.

“Sometimes it can be challenging to get in the right mindset going into the day unsure if the game will be played,” Taft coach Matt Hilgers said. “We jumped on them early again in the first inning. We made some mental mistakes that we were fortunate didn’t cost us. Pitching and defense has continued to carry us.”

Jack Stempel
Jack Stempel with a diving grab in foul territory

Stempel and DeMello joined Fisher with two RBIs, while Stempel and Salsbery — team tri-captains with senior centerfielder Caleb King — scored three runs each for Taft.

Caleb King
Caleb King

“A couple of walks and guys behind me swinging the bat well set that up,” Salsbery said of his team-leading run production.

Salsbery joined Fisher, who doubled twice, with a triple for the Tigers.

“I just took advantage of the pitcher leaving one out over the plate and went the other way with it,” he said.

DeMello scored two runs in a game moved to Taft due to wet playing conditions in Willamina, while King, Kessler, junior second baseman Cody Knott and sophomore infielders Trenton Fisher and Lucas Hindman also scored for the Tigers.

Eli DeMello
Eli DeMello

Kessler had the other hit and joined Knott and Salsbery with an RBI each the Tigers.

Kaleb Ried had the only hit for the Bulldogs, who fell to 2-11, 0-5 with their seventh straight defeat.

Taft is at Clastskanie (4-5, 2-1 Class 3A Lewis & Clark) at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, and host league foe Dayton (5-8, 2-1 West Valley) at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 20. Dayton plays Tuesday afternoon at Amity.

Taft 13, Willamina 1

WILLAMINA            AB  R  H BI  TAFT  
Austin Wadkins            2  0  0  0
Kaleb Ried                   2  0  1  0
Tanner Onstot             2  0  0  0
Keegan Cook               2  0  0  0
Ian Bruckner               1  1  0  0
Brad Milton                 1  0  0  0
David Elwood              2  0  0  1
CJ Toney                    2  0  0  0
Josh Royce                 1  0  0  0
Ashi Austin                1  0  0  0
TOTALS                    16  1  1  1

TAFT                 AB  R  H BI
Josh Salsbery         2  3  1  1
Eli DeMello           4  2  2  2
Caleb King            2  1  0  0
Jack Stempel          2  3  2  2
Cody Knott            3  1  0  1
Kam Kessler           3  1  1  1
Tyee Fisher           3  0  3  2
Caleb Jones           2  0  0  0
Trenton Fisher        2  1  0  0
*Lucas Hindman        0  1  0  0
TOTALS               23 13  9  9

WILLAMINA            010 00 — 1
TAFT                       453 1x — 13

LOB–WILLAMINA 2017/18 2, TAFT 2018 4. ERR–Brad Milton, Ian Bruckner, Josh Royce (3). 2B–Tyee Fisher (2), Eli DeMello. 3B–Josh Salsbery, Tyee Fisher, Eli DeMello. HBP—Caleb King, Caleb Jones. SB–Josh Salsbery (2), Caleb King.

WILLAMINA                       IP    H    R   ER   BB   SO   HR
Tanner Onstot                  2.00    7    9    5    2    1    0
Keegan Cook                    1.67    2    4    1    2    0    0
David Elwood                   0.33    0    0    0    0    0    0
Kam Kessler (W)                3.00    1    1    1    2    4    0
Bleiz Kimbrough                2.00    0    0    0    0    2    0
PB–Kaleb Ried (6), Caleb Jones. SO–Austin Wadkins, David Elwood, Ashi Austin, Keegan Cook, CJ Toney, Josh Royce, Trenton Fisher. BB–Brad Milton, Ian Bruckner, Trenton Fisher, Josh Salsbery (2), Jack Stempel.

Taft roster/schedule
Class 3A West Valley League standings
Class 3A OSAA rankings

Jim Fossum
Jim Fossum
Homepage Executive Editor and former longtime Sports Editor of the near-200,000 circulation Las Vegas Review-Journal, Fossum brings 40 years of award-winning experience covering virtually every facet of print and digital journalism to Lincoln City Homepage. The former longtime reporter for the Newport News-Times and Lincoln City News Guard is also Editor-in-Chief and Senior Columnist for, which covers the NFL's Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders.


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