by Jefferson Freeman
Orcas High School student
The Orcas Vikings brought the regular season to a close and started up postseason action this past Saturday.
The Vikings started the final stretch with their most important regular-season matchup of the year. A Tuesday home game against Mount Vernon Christian would have heavy implications for what the rest of the year and the playoffs would look like.
The Vikings handed the ball to Hayden Schaefer and he delivered. After a leadoff base hit, he wouldn’t give up another for the rest of the inning. He struck out 2, however, a dropped third strike allowed for a run to cross, 1-0 Hurricanes. Schaefer got the opportunity to lead off and got that run right back to even the score at 1-1. The next 3 innings flew by as Schaefer struck out 4 more but the Viking offense was just as stagnant as the Canes.
Unfortunately, shortstop Diego Lago was injured in a collision catching a pop-fly and was hobbled for the rest of the game and forced to move to second base. In the fifth inning, MVC got consecutive batters to reach base for the first time that day and capitalized with a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately, the Vikings’ offense remained at the same pace they’d played at the entire game. The Hurricanes got back to the bats with a lead and kept pushing. They chased Schaefer from the game and had the Vikings in a jam. Joe Stephens would take the hill in relief and provided a clean exit allowing only 1 more run, 3-1 Hurricanes.
The sixth inning seemed to be following the same pattern for Orcas as the first two went up and down. But a base hit from Moose Kinsey followed by a hit from Eddie Cunningham that went past the left fielder and got him into third base as Kinsey scored had something rolling for the Vikings. Remy Lago stepped up and was able to beat out a bobbled ground ball by the shortstop as Cael Meister crossed the plate as a pinch-runner. Tie ball game. A series of based balls and wild pitches got Lago all the way around the bases and eventually across home plate to give the home team their first lead of the day. The Hurricanes got up needing a run. Stephens struck out the first, then walked the second, the third batter hit a pop-fly into left field that was dropped allowing the runner to reach third base. A fly ball to center got out number two but the throw wasn’t quite there and the Hurricanes had matched the score. The Vikings got out of there but the Hurricanes had matched the score. Bottom of the seventh Vikings at the top of the order, the first batter goes down looking, Lago gets up and manages a base hit on basically one leg, steal sign sends him safely to second. TJ Liblik gets an opportunity for the win, hard-hit groundball into the first-second gap, Lago running hard from second, ball is into the outfield, Lago hits the breaks rounding third, but the ball gets passed the right fielder. Lago sprints the last 90 feet and steps across the plate victorious by the score of 5-4.
After that huge win, the Vikings turned to face Coupeville on Friday, where they got off to a slow start that would keep them out of it the whole day. A late rally for 5 runs in the last 3 innings kept the final score 12-5.
Monday saw the Vikings back on the road this time heading to Concrete looking for a necessary win on the road. The Vikings got out to a 1-0 lead and then Joe Stephens K’d 3 and walked two. The Vikings got nothing in the second and Stephens struckout 3 more. The game would look a lot like that as the Vikings gave up only 1 hit on the day but allowed twice as many runs. The offense eventually found a bit of a flow scoring 8 runs in the final 3 innings to win 9-2.
This would be the final regular-season matchup for the Vikings as their focus turned away from league battles and into the bi-district playoffs. The Vikings got the fourth seed, MVC is three, Sound Christian at two, and Crosspoint is at one. All four of these squads received byes in the tournament as the 5 through 12 seeds played each other in loser-out matchups. However, only two of those games happened on schedule. Concordia was unable to play so Muckleshoot auto advanced to face Orcas, and Pope John Paul vs Darrington was delayed. In the two games that were played sixth-ranked Quilcene beat Concrete 12-4 and got MVC in the second round. Meanwhile, number eight Evergreen Luthern took care of number nine Seattle Lutheran 15-5. The second round took place on the same day and the top 4 showed why they were ranked in those spots. Crosspoint beat Evergreen by the score of 25-0, MVC took down Quilcene 13-0, and out of the three games, the Vikings put together a 10-0 no-hitter over Muckleshoot.
The Vikings found themselves in a hole, missing three key players due to illness they were going to be shorthanded, Joe Stephens is a regular coming off the hill but his battery partner that day in Calder Jones was making his first career catching start. In addition to that, you had Moose Kinsey moving back to third base, Remy Lago taking reps at both first and second, and Justin Derr back in the starting lineup. This didn’t seem to cause any issues for the Vikings as the new players made their impact felt early as Calder Jones tossed the leadoff batter for the Kings as he attempted to steal third allowing the Vikes to get out of the inning with a couple of walks but no hits or runs. The offense got out to a comparatively good start as two runs scored, giving the Vikings a 2-0 lead. You can imagine what the scorecard would look like for this type of game: a lot of K’s filling up boxes for Muckeshoot.
Unfortunately, 2-0 would remain the score for a while, with a couple of great plays on defense (including Calder Jones gunning down the same guy, this time attempting to steal second base) but not much on offense. The fifth inning seemed to break the genie out of the bottle for the Viking bats as they added 3 there followed by six more in the sixth which would be enough for the 10-run rule to come into effect subsequently ending the game. Seven Viking batters had either a run and RBI or both, including Moose Kinsey who had himself a day going 4-4 with 3 runs and 3 RBIs. Stephens and Diego Lago split the no-hitter down the middle as each recorded 3 innings. Stephens fanned 8 of the 12 batters he faced while Lago punched out 7 of his 10. A combined effort of 15 strikeouts over 22 batters and no ball made it out of the infield. The Vikings dominated the day but the pitching shone just that much brighter.
The Vikings’ playoff runs don’t slow down from here. Games on Tuesday and Thursday followed by the possibility of playing Saturday set them up to roll into the State Regionals if they can just get one win on those three days on May 17th.