Vikings baseball looks at playoffs

by Jefferson Freeman

Sounder contributor

Playoff baseball is right around the corner, but for now, the Orcas Vikings must focus on the regular season.

With five games over a two-week stretch, the Vikings were pushed to their limits. Dealing with injuries, sickness and missing players, the Vikings did what they could to stay afloat.

After a big win against Darrington, the Vikings had their biggest game of the season. They went on the road to face Mount Vernon Christian in a game that could well decide the top seed at districts. Eddie Cunningham was the man of the hill for the Vikings as they looked to dethrone the Hurricanes. Things started slow for the Viking bats and would stay like that all game. On the flip side, the Hurricanes worked the count and made Cunningham’s life miserable. Two runs in the first, two in the second, and two in the fourth wouldn’t feel like a lot but when you don’t score, 6-0 becomes a mountain of a lead to overcome. The shorthanded Vikings just couldn’t find a way past it, falling to the Hurricanes 6-0.

After a tough road loss, the Vikings shipped off to another island for the battle with Friday Harbor. Despite the gusting winds, the game would be marked by an offensive explosion from both sides. Moose Kinsey was finally back in the Vikings’ lineup and would take over pitching after just the first inning. After nothing in the first, Joe Stephens took the mound but found himself in trouble, giving up four. Both the Vikings and Wolverines would stay quiet for two innings, leaving it 3-0 after three. The fourth inning saw the Vikings go 1-2-3 while the Wolverines tacked on another run. The Vikings hadn’t been able to hit to save their lives and it wasn’t looking good with the bottom of the order up to bat — 7,8,9 for the Vikings. Three straight doubles. Kristian Freeman, Scorpio Hendricks and Calvin Saxe flipped the game’s momentum on its head as they brought Orcas back into the game. Charles Hill would also score and all of a sudden it was 4-4. The Wolverines would find an answer, adding three runs and taking an 8-4 lead.

Backed into a corner the Vikings needed a spark, but would get 2 quick outs. But it was back to Saxe and Hendricks who both found themselves on base after ripping pitches. This time they’d’ have help, the top of the order would finally find life, including a Joe Stephens double off the wall in center field. The Wolverines were forced to remove their starting pitcher and things seemed to unravel. Five runs would score and the Vikings would have a 9-8 lead. But the Wolverines would come out guns blazing, scoring early to make it 9-8, then a three-run homerun to left field would put the game away for the Wolverines. A battle between two top teams went 11-8 in Friday Harbor’s favor.

After a tough close loss to Friday Harbor, the Vikings hosted the Coupeville Wolves. The Wolves were coming off a big win as the first team to beat MVC in league play. Things started smoothly for Stephens, but not the Viking offense. The first sign of life from either side was from a surprise run at the back of the Wolves in order to go up 2-0. Things would sit there until Jefferson Freeman got hit by a pitch and Matthew Eggenberg’s base hit sent him home. But with two outs an error would score 2 runs and give the Wolves their 4-2 lead. The Vikings wouldn’t be able to do anything else and would fall 4-2.

After dropping three in a row the Vikings were hoping to get a much-needed win as they took on the La Conner Braves. Hill would lead off with a base hit, and Cunningham would drive him home. The Braves wouldn’t find an answer until the second inning but they’d make it 1-1. The Vikings would slowly add on, making it 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth, but the strings came undone. Base hit after base hit wrecked the Vikings despite them already having two outs. The final score was 12-5. It was a real wake-up call for the Vikings after one of their worst losses in years.

Making the trip to Concrete the Vikings absolutely needed a win to stay on track. Finally returning to a full healthy squad the Vikings were playing without any players missing for the first time since April 1. The Vikings got 14 batters in just the first inning and capitalized with 9 runs. Calder Jones got the start on his return and shut down the Lions. The second inning would provide Concrete some life as they made it 9-2. But that was the end of that. Twelve straight Viking batters would score in the third before Concrete was able to record an out. The Vikings hit through the side not once, not twice, but three times as they added on 19 runs to go up 28-2. That would be the final score as the Vikings picked up a crucial win as they look onto playoff baseball. They finish the regular season with Darrington and MVC at home.