by Jefferson Freeman
The last couple of weeks has been the start of league play for the Vikings’ baseball team. Five games over a two-week stretch have pushed the team to the limits as they start off their season.
The opening to league play would be a road trip down to Concrete to take on the Lions. Moose Kinsey would get his first start of the season, and boy would he deliver. Kinsey pitched a one-hit complete game striking out 11 batters while allowing zero runs in his 5 innings. The Vikings wouldn’t have any issues at the plate as they clobbered any pitcher the Lions threw at them. Seventeen runs over 5 innings had the Vikings headed home early. Hayden Shaefer would score 5 times in that game going 4/4 with one walk. Joe Stephens would put the cherry on top for the Vikings in the fifth when a bases-loaded ball was clobbered off his bat into deep right field dropping just in front of the fence allowing Stephens, with the help of some defensive miscues, round the bases and arrive safely at home for the in the park grand slam.
Starting off 1-0 was great. But now they had to back it up at home. The Darrington Loggers came to town for the first baseball meeting between the two teams since Orcas had shut down the Loggers 10-0 to advance to the state tournament last year.
Shaefer would be back on the hill and looking for his third win of the season. The Vikings would get the first base runner of the ball game as Eddie Cunningham reached on a base hit but would be stranded. The Loggers had an immediate answer to Cunningham after their first 3 went down in order. And a lead-off base hit seemed to be a huge gain in momentum until Shaefer turned around in a flash and had Darrington’s first runner frozen and tagged out. The loggers would do it again in the third inning as Shaefer was throwing darts not only to the plate but also to his first baseman. Four innings and not a single runner in scoring position. A battle of two arms was going to come down to every inch. The fifth inning saw the Loggers begin to threaten but it would prove not to matter as Shaefer got his 7th K of the day. The Vikings would go 3 up 3 down to bring the game into the sixth. Six batters stepped to the plate, six batters returned to the dugout. A lead-off base hit had the Loggers looking to break the deadlock but another mistake on the base paths led to a pickle, and out one of three.
Now the Vikings came up, still looking to just put a runner on, and Stephens was up to the task. A base hit followed up by a steal gave the Vikings some room to work. Now the Vikings would work, not with their bats, but with their eyes. Both Kinsey and Shaefer would battle to a full count then a walk to load the bases. And it wouldn’t be a ball off the bat to seal the game, but a ball off the shin. Charles Hill stood in and wore one for his team, winning the game in an incredibly unique fashion.
The next week would see three of the biggest games yet. Mount Vernon Christian, Friday Harbor and Coupeville are the three best teams the league has to offer. The MVC Hurricanes had come out as the top-ranked 1B in the league last year and the Vikings were hoping to steal that crown. Stephens would get the nod in his first start of the season. Things wouldn’t go to plan for the freshman as a build-up of walks and errors led to 4 runs for the Canes. The Vikings would get stuck at the plate, and the game wouldn’t change much after the first inning. The Hurricanes eventually won 8-2 behind that emphatic first inning.
Friday Harbor would offer a chance to change the script, but unfortunately, it was the same story for the Vikings. The Wolverines would take a 5-0 lead in two innings. Besides Kinsey, the Vikings would be forced to use Calder Jones and Hill in their debuts off the hill. The final score would be 11-1.
Saturday would be on the road, an opportunity to break the slide as the Vikes made their way into Coupeville. Over the week the Wolves had beat Friday Harbor and fallen to MVC. Stephens would be back on the rubber for the visiting Vikings. Through the first two innings, Stephens struck out 4 allowing only 1. The Vikings answered with a Calvin Saxe walk and Taylor Lyons scrambled home. Through the fourth and fifth the Vikings took command as Hill, Cunningham and Jefferson Freeman scored. Freeman hit the other two in. Stephens would get one out into the fifth, and be credited with his second run of the game. Kinsey took over and after 5 it was 4-2 Vikings. The Wolves would get an opportunity in the sixth and take advantage. Errors, that had gone in the visitors’ favor, finally turned against them as Coupeville put up 3 runs to go up 5-4.