|5/23/2013 3:30:00 PM|
Vikes drop three North
Suburban games in a week
In one, North Branch was up 8-0 before losing 9-8 in the bottom of the ninth inning
by JEFF NORTON
St. Francis 9, North Branch 3
The Vikings struggled against St. Francis from the get go, committing costly errors in the first two innings that led to a quick 7-0 deficit. Starting pitcher Jacob Kari settled down and got through the third and fourth innings unscathed, but the Fighting Saints tacked on two more runs in the fifth before Kari was pulled. He gave up nine runs on six hits, but only four of the runs were earned by the Saints. Meanwhile, at the plate, North Branch couldn’t find any holes in the St. Francis defense. They were putting the bat on the ball and drawing walks -- the had six base on balls in the game -- but they couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it.
The Vikings put their first run of the game on the board in the sixth inning and added two more in the seventh, but went down 9-3. Matt Solberg finished off the game for the Vikings, going one and one-third innings and allowing only one hit. Cody Knobbe was two-for-three from the plat and was the only Viking with multiple hits. He also scored one of the Vikings two runs.
St. Francis 5, North Branch 0
The Vikes had to turn around and play St. Francis again right away in the second half of a doubleheader, and the results were very similar. The defense played much better and didn’t commit any errors, but starting pitcher Jared Axberg battled wildness all day, walking four St. Francis batters and plunking four more without registering a strikeout. The Saints took advantage of the free baserunners and scored five runs on five hits, getting a single run in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. North Branch scattered four hits throughout the game, but they weren’t able to draw any free passes or hit batters, so they were shut out and lost 5-0 as the Fighting Saints completed their sweep.
North Branch 3, Irondale 1
North Branch finally got some clutch hitting as they toppled North Suburban Conference foe Irondale late last week. They put up single runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings, and that was enough to fend of the Knights 3-1. Ethan Fairbanks and Charlie Linder each had two hits, one run and one RBI and Nick Pilz, Knobbe, Kari and Jake Schmitz each had a hit. Pinch runner Zack Sundly scored the Vikings’ third run. The real story of the game, however, was Nick Pilz. The sophomore pitcher went five and one-third innings, allowing only three hits and one run. He walked five, but he struck out four in the victory. Blake Jorgenson and Tyler Dolin teamed up to finished the game off, throwing one and two-third scoreless innings. Jorgenson earned the save, striking out the last two batters of the game. Spring Lake Park 9, North Branch 8 The Vikings dropped their record to 5-9 with a heartbreaking loss to Spring Lake Park. The Vikings had an 8-0 lead at one point in the fifth inning before allowing the floodgates to open in the last three innings.
The Vikings built their big lead on patience and hard hit balls. North Branch got 10 hits, including two off the bats of Michael Naggatz, Knobbe, Kari and Schmitz. They also drew four walks to get runners on base throughout the game. The big hits came from Kari and Schmitz. Both hit run-scoring doubles in the middle of the game to balloon North Branch’s lead, although because of a pair of Spring Lake Park errors, only three of the eight runs were credited as RBIs to North Branch. After plating three runs in the top of the fifth to make it 8-0, Spring Lake Park began their charge. First, they knocked Jorgenson out of the game. He had been cruising up until that point but he gave up three runs in the bottom of the fifth to narrow NB’s lead to five at 8-3. Axberg and Solberg combined to pitch the bottom of the sixth inning, and they didn’t fare too well.
The two combined to go one and two-thirds inning and they gave up three hits, four walks and four runs, shrinking North Branch’s once large lead to one at 8-7. In the bottom of the seventh, Dolin got the first two outs he needed, but they made baseball innings three outs long for a reason, and the Spring Lake Park hitters took advantage of three walks and two hits given up by Dolin and scored the two runs they needed for the walk-off 9-8 victory, leaving the red-and-white bench stunned.