Division II Team Of The Week: Week 6 - Salem


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Division II Team Of The Week: Week 6 - Salem

SALEM - What a six-day stretch it was for Salem.

Four league wins along with a non-league victory that established a new single-season school record for wins last week earned the Quakers the honor of being selected Prep Baseball Report Division II Team of the Week.

“It’s crazy to play four league games in a week, let alone win them,” pointed out head coach Mike DeBarr, whose squad enters this week at 22-3.

No umpires a week prior meant moving the Canton South game back a week and Salem knocked off the league foe 6-0 and 6-4 during the week, sandwiched around 8-2 and 4-0 triumphs over West Branch and a 15-1 victory over West Branch that set the mark for wins at the school set back in 1999 when DeBarr was a player.

“These guys said they wanted to be the best team to come through Salem and I think they are,” DeBarr said. “My team won 20, but four of those were in the postseason.”

Adding to the highlights was a no-hitter by Lane Rhodes in the 4-0 contest with West Branch.

“There was a tight zone, so he had six walks,” reflected DeBarr about Rhodes, who had a one-hitter sophomore year and another earlier this season. “There was a crazy play in left field where our guy dove and the ump said it was down, but the runner on base was going back to first so we got a force out at second. Then we had a diving catch in right field to save it.”

Fittingly, the game ended with a ground ball to shortstop Carson Rhodes, the freshman brother of Lane.

The older Rhodes, the 23rd-rated 2021 right-handed pitcher in Ohio and a Youngstown State commit, is 5-1 with a 1.18 ERA to date.

“He’s gone against every team’s number one including (Tommy) Skelding (Marlington/Kentucky commit) and (Gavin) Bruni (Alliance/Ohio State commit),” DeBarr related about Rhodes, who is also averaging .368 at the plate. “He’s the best competitor I’ve ever been around.”

Gavin Wilms is the number two pitcher for Salem, throwing 35.2 innings with a 4-1 record and 2.55 ERA. Depth comes via Cayden Burt, 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in 22.1 innings, Brock Young, 2-1 with a save and 2.47 ERA in 21.2 frames, and Carson Rhodes, 4-1 in 31 innings.

Wilms, who had the game-winning two-run double in a 3-2 victory over Alliance earlier this season, is second in batting on the Quakers behind Darius Beck with a .385 average batting clean-up. Beck, the catcher, is a “singles machine” according to DeBarr with 29 singles out of a team-high 34 hits.

The Salem coach also singled out Jackson Johnson for his defensive play at first base and Blaize Extine, a standout wide receiver in football who is 22-22 on stolen bases. Additionally, Nick Coletta is batting .348 while Carson Rhodes has a team-best three home runs, one more than Beck and Wilms.

“We talked about going unbeaten in the league and it’s an amazing accomplishment,” explained DeBarr about ending Eastern Buckeye Conference play at 12-0. “One through nine our guys are so good. It only takes one guy to spark it and then it’s like an avalanche.

“We knew we had good pitching and I thought we could hit the ball and maybe our fielding would be good, but I never thought we’d be unbeaten in the league. In crucial situations we’ve had people come through. Our guys have been mentally tough. I just step back and let them play.”

Now it is a matter of continuing it with the postseason upon us.

“It’s about not pressing and not trying to do too much,” DeBarr said. “We can’t rely on just one guy, we need to be a team one through 13 and continue to do what got us here all year.”

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A Look Back At The Last Decade:

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