by Jefferson Freeman
The Orcas Vikings have had their hands full over the past couple of weeks.
Four games, including three crucial league tilts, kept a short-handed Vikings squad on their toes. Lucky for them, they found themselves 4-0 when all the dust settled. After their disappointing result at Coupeville the Vikings got an opportunity to right the ship against a 4A school in the Mariner Marauders.
Calder Jones would take the mound for his first start of the season, and despite giving up the first run of the game, settled in nicely for the Vikings. Down 1-0, Jones led off and got it back for the home team as he reached on a base hit before scoring thanks to a big double from Eddie Cunningham. Jones would settle in and keep the Marauders scoreless for the rest of his outing.
Jefferson Freeman would bunt for a base hit and then circle the bases on a combination of passed balls and steals, including one of home plate to give the Vikings a crucial early lead. Jones would be in control for the rest of his outing until he would be replaced by Moose Kinsey in the 5th. The Vikings would add an insurance run via Joe Stephens being knocked in by Kinsey. Joe Stephens would come in to close and lock down the Marauders finishing the game with back-to-back K’s and a pickoff, to end 3-1 Vikings.
The Vikings would keep that momentum rolling into a Saturday home game against the La Conner Braves. This would be the first meeting of the two teams and a big game for both. The Vikings would again start Jones, who after a strikeout would walk the second man, who would work his way around to put the Braves up 1-0. Jones would again find the answer as his base hit was eventually driven in by Eddie Cunningham. The Braves sent up three and sat down three all by way of a strikeout from Jones. The next inning would look very similar. The Vikings, however, would do just the opposite, scoring six runs in the second inning to make the 1-1 game 7-1. The game would be controlled by Orcas from that point on. Despite a 5-run fourth the Braves still trailed and the game never seemed like a contest. The final score was 11-6.
After that big win, the Vikings would have to wait until Thursday for a matchup against the Concrete Lions. Kinsey would come off the hill and boy would he deal. The Lions didn’t see a runner past second base all game. The Vikings would be raking runners in left and right, as the first five batters all scored as part of a six-run first inning. We would see much of the same as the game only lasted five innings before the Vikings won via mercy rule, 12-0.
The biggest game of the two weeks would end up being the road trip to Darrington. The last time these teams met it was a 1-0 Orcas win thanks to a walk-off hit by pitch. And this time the Vikings were down to just nine players. With Cunningham taking the hill for the first time in his high school career, we saw Freeman make his debut at first, Matthew Eggenberg playing center field and Scorpio Hendricks getting career start number one.
Things started off slow as neither team could do any damage in the first. But then Eggenberg led off the second with a rope into centerfield that would get through the legs of the last man for the Loggers and keep rolling for what seemed like miles. All this time Eggenberg was in a full sprint around the bases getting waved past each base until he was eventually home safe. A lead off in the park homerun had the Vikings up early. Cunningham saw only three batters again and was looking like a seasoned vet on the hill. Things would be pretty much the same as Cunnigham kept chucking the ball right past the Logger batters.
Until the fifth inning, when Darrington strung together hits for the first time to give themselves the tying run and some momentum. The Vikings went 1-2-3 in the sixth and all of a sudden this was the Loggers’ game to lose. And with a new pitcher, they took their opportunity. A lead-off walk followed by a base hit got runners to the corners with nobody out. A ground ball to first was played perfectly as Charles Hill applied the tag despite having lost feeling in his right hand earlier in the game. Then a pickoff got two and the Vikings escaped unscathed.
Hendricks came up in the seventh taking his third ever at bat. And he roped an incredible double into right field to give the Vikings everything they needed. Freeman would bunt for a base hit and get runners to the corners. Cunningham would send a chopper back to the pitcher, but Hendricks would score to give the Vikings a crucial lead. Eggenberg then laid down a bunt of his own to score Freeman on a squeeze and made the lead 3-1. Stephens had come in to relieve Cunningham and forced an early ground out, then gave up a base hit. But don’t worry, Stephens struck out the next batter, and on that third strike, Hill made a perfect throw down to Christopher Mullan to apply the tag to an advancing runner and get the Vikings a hard-earned victory by the score 3-1.