Salmon stars as Tippecanoe beats Kenton Ridge in district semifinal

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Highlights: Tippecanoe beats Kenton Ridge in Division II tournament on May 24, 2022

Red Devils ace has 80 strikeouts in 15 appearances

NEW CARLISLE — Tippecanoe pitcher Matt Salmon has helped end the Kenton Ridge baseball season two years in a row.

In 2021, Salmon threw a complete game and struck out seven in a 2-0 victory against Kenton Ridge in a Division II district semifinal at Carleton Davidson Stadium in Springfield. On Tuesday, in the same round of the tournament, this time at Tecumseh High School, Salmon struck out nine and allowed one unearned run on two hits in six innings, leading Tippecanoe to an 11-1 victory against Kenton Ridge.

Salmon, now a senior, also drove in two runs with a triple in the third as the Red Devils took a 2-1 lead.

“It was good to just get the momentum back on our side,” Salmon said, “and we ran with it after that. It was a great team win, and we’re excited for Thursday.”

After taking a 3-1 lead in the third inning, Tippecanoe (18-11) put the game away with four runs in the fifth and added four more in the sixth to win the game by run rule. It will play Hamilton Badin (22-6), which ranks seventh in the state poll, in the district final at 5 p.m. Thursday at Pleasant Hill Newton High School. Badin beat Cincinnati Wyoming 10-0 on Tuesday.

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Tippecanoe's Bryan Gorski talks with the umpires and Kenton Ridge's Aaron Shaffer before a a Division II district semifinal on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at Tecumseh High School in New Carlisle. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Tippecanoe's Bryan Gorski talks with the umpires and Kenton Ridge's Aaron Shaffer before a a Division II district semifinal on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at Tecumseh High School in New Carlisle. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

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Tippecanoe's Bryan Gorski talks with the umpires and Kenton Ridge's Aaron Shaffer before a a Division II district semifinal on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at Tecumseh High School in New Carlisle. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

The Red Devils will seek their first district championship since 2016, when they won their fifth straight district title. First-year head coach Bryan Gronski was an assistant coach on Bruce Cahill’s staff then. Cahill, a member of the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, announced his retirement last June. He led the program from 1981-2021 and ranks 11th in state history in career victories (714-301).

“I had been here seven years as an assistant, so I was able to learn from him,” Gronski said. ‘I came from the Columbus area and worked with other great coaches up there. So I was able to kind of combine everything that I’ve learned from a lot of great programs and take on a great group of kids. It wasn’t like we were rebuilding anything. I’m just kind of continuing what Bruce left me.”

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Kenton Ridge (16-9) played the game with with heavy hearts. It was the same Saturday when it beat Bellefontaine 6-5. A Kenton Ridge senior, Koda Austin, 17, died in a car accident Thursday in Springfield. Another KR student, Joel Cox, 18, suffered serious injuries in the crash.

Austin didn’t play baseball, Kenton Ridge coach Aaron Shaffer said, but the players knew him.

“He was a part of the Kenton Ridge family,” Shaffer said. “We rubbed shoulders with him every day. That’s a tough thing, especially this time of year. I’m just proud of the way we played Saturday with that on our mind, and even today, we gave it our best shot. We just came up short. We’ll learn from it. We’ll be better. I think we’ve got a lot of good things ahead here the next couple of years.”

Kenton Ridge grabbed the early momentum and a 1-0 lead on a two-out RBI single by Logan Fyffe in the third. Salmon’s two-out triple turned the momentum toward Tippecanoe, and they added another run in the third. Josh Dietz, who was 2-for-2 with two RBIs, followed Salmon’s hit with an RBI single to make it 3-1.

In a four-run fifth, D.J. Martin had the big hit. His two-run single extended Tippecanoe’s lead to 6-1.

Preston Zumwalt led the Tippecanoe offense, going 3-for-3 with three runs scored.

Salmon improved to 8-3. He has 80 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings. The big lead helped him shut down Kenton Ridge.

“The way he throws, we got him some confidence and a lot of insurance,” Gronski said. “I don’t think many people are going to touch him when he’s got a lead like that and can do whatever he wants on the mound.”

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Tippecanoe's Matthew Salmon reacts after driving in two runs with a triple in the third inning against Kenton Ridge in a Division II district semifinals on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at Tecumseh High School in New Carlisle. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Tippecanoe's Matthew Salmon reacts after driving in two runs with a triple in the third inning against Kenton Ridge in a Division II district semifinals on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at Tecumseh High School in New Carlisle. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Combined ShapeCaption
Tippecanoe's Matthew Salmon reacts after driving in two runs with a triple in the third inning against Kenton Ridge in a Division II district semifinals on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at Tecumseh High School in New Carlisle. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

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