“He’s just a special kid,” he said. “I don’t have any other words for that. … Matt was the difference. He kept them off-balance. He attacks the strike zone, so they swung at a lot of first pitches, which helped him too on a day like today when it’s so hot. It made all the difference in the world.”
The Cougars beat the Red Devils 9-7 in a non-conference game on May 8, but Salmon didn’t pitch in the first meeting. He was happy to go the distance, especially with temperatures in the 80s.
Kenton Ridge High School senior pitcher Justin Maurer motions to the plate during their game against Tippecanoe on Tuesday, May 25 at Carleton Davidson Stadium in Springfield. The Red Devils won 2-0. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Credit: Name Test
Credit: Name Test
“It’s definitely draining, but when you’re having fun on the baseball field, it’s a lot easier to get through,” Salmon said. “With teammates like we have, it makes it a fun time to be out here. I just wanted to trust myself, my teammates and know that if we gave it our all then hopefully we’d come out on top and luckily we were able to do that today.”
Kenton Ridge senior Justin Maurer, freshman Caleb Obee and sophomore Keller Fultz each had hits for the Cougars, who finished their season 21-7.
The Cougars had runners in scoring position in the first and second innings, but couldn’t find the big hit they needed, said Kenton Ridge coach Aaron Shaffer.
“We knew it was going to come down to a hit here, a hit there,” he said. “They were able to get the big hit in the first inning and they got one in third on the triple. Other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot of offense going on. We knew runs would be at a premium and that we’d have to play small ball. They were able to do that early.”
Salmon also kept the Cougars off-balance throughout the game, Shaffer said.
“We hit some balls hard that kind of got choked up in the grass,” he said. “Not a lot was getting through this grass today. We knew one to two runs may have been the difference in the game. We’re proud of them. They played well. It was a good high school baseball game.”
Turner led off the game with a single and scored on a two-out single by senior Clay Vaughn to give Tippecanoe a 1-0 lead.
“That’s always the one you want in the first inning,” Cahill said.
Turner also singled in the third inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Braydon Bottles and scored on Salmon’s triple.
“That’s pretty tough for a kid as a freshman to come up in that role and set the table for us,” Cahill said. “It was huge.”
Kenton Ridge missed out on its fourth straight district championship appearance, but the Cougars won their fifth straight Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division championship and finished with 21 victories.
“We’re going to walk out of here with our heads held high,” Shaffer said. “We’re still league champs. We had a good season. Only one team gets the finish the season with a victory in Division II.”
The program will graduate six seniors who were able to lead their team to another championship despite missing last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s always tough to see those guys go because of the commitment over four years,” Shaffer said. “They’re all good kids. They set a good example for our young guys. We’ve got a lot of young guys. The future is bright. We’ll get back to work in a couple months and get ready to go. The biggest thing with our seniors is they set a great example about how to be leaders on and off the field.”