The Saugus High baseball team had better hurry up and win the Southern Section 3-A Division championship. Looks like Roger Salkeld is running out of gas.
Salkeld, Saugus’ ace right-hander, went the distance for the 12th time Tuesday--and for the second time in four playoff games--as Saugus defeated Ontario, 10-3, in a semifinal game at College of the Canyons.
The Centurions (23-4-2) will play Kennedy of La Palma, a 7-2 winner over Tustin, for the championship Saturday at 1 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.
Salkeld (12-0), who has two wins and two saves in the postseason, showed signs of dominance in his six-hit, six-strikeout performance. But judging by the number of hard-hit balls allowed by the 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior, and the perceptible drop in velocity from what once was a 90 m. p. h. fastball, there is some question as to how long the heat will go on.
Said Salkeld afterward: “I’m tired.”
Ontario (17-10) held a 3-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings, but seniors Scott Warr and Glenn Terry delivered the blows that earned the Centurions a trip to the final after a two-year absence.
Warr, who has two game-winning hits in the playoffs, roped a bases-loaded double in the third inning to pull Saugus even. Two batters later, Terry lined a pitch over the center-field fence for his first career home run and a 5-3 Saugus lead.
“I think the whole team was kind of worried,” Terry said.
Added Warr: “But once we started hitting, it was smooth sailing.”
Saugus encountered rough waters in the first inning and trailed, 2-0, before Salkeld recorded his first strikeout. Leadoff hitter Ty DeTrinidad reached base on an infield error, went to second on a passed ball and scored on a sharp single by pitcher Calvin Ford.
Cleanup hitter Al Marquez reached base on a fielding error by shortstop Walter White. A wild pitch and an infield single by Mike Hernandez gave the Jaguars their second unearned run of the inning.
Saugus stranded four baserunners in the first two innings and Salkeld was tagged for a run on two hits in the third.
“I was a little worried about them nickel-and-diming us,” Saugus Coach Doug Worley said. “They hadn’t really done a lot for their runs. It could have been one of those weird games. But I thought if Roger could hold them, we would score five runs.”
Saugus, which collected 11 hits--the most in a playoff game this season by the Centurions--chased Ford (6-4) in the fifth after the Ontario starter, a senior right-hander, had struck out six and walked five. Bases-loaded infield singles by Tom Burges and Darrell Davis accounted for two runs.
In the sixth, Saugus jumped on reliever Al Pedregon for three hits and three insurance runs.
Salkeld retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced and struck out three in a row in that span.
“There are a lot of seniors on this team that want to finish things right,” Salkeld said. “And we’re gonna.”