5/31/2018 2:32:00 PM North Branch backs into section play before beating H'Town
North Branch’s goal was to head into the Section 7AAA baseball playoffs on a hot streak after winning three of four in late May.
But, 7-6 loss at the hands of Mound Westonka and a tough 10-0 loss to Monticello to end the regular season wasn’t what the Vikings had in mind.
Mound Westonka 7, North Branch 6 The Vikings’ defense fell off the rails in the third inning, and it cost them dearly in the game. Starter Dillyn Negley gave up five runs, all of them unearned as the WhiteHawks built a sizeable lead in the top of the third frame.
North Branch did answer back in the bottom of the third, though, scroing five of their own runs on a barrage of walks and hits. The bottom of the order got it started with a walk from Zack Pilz and back-to-back hits from Nick Johnson and Cooper Sanvik.
Wit the bases loaded, lead off hitter Clint Mattson brought Pilz home with a single. Senior Aaron Robillard hustled out a single to score another run, and Negley followed with another single of his own to score Sanvik.
Dawson Linkert drove in another with a sacrifice fly and a returning Brady Brodin got his first hit and RBI after coming back from injury and scored Negley from second to tie the game at 5-5.
The game remained tied until the fifth inning when Negley gave up two more runs to the Whitehawks, giving them a 7-5 lead. North Branch returned volley with one run in the bottom of the sixth inning, but they didn’t push any more runs across in the seventh inning and fell 7-6 in the non-conference tilt.
Monticello 10, North Branch 0 The Vikings laid a dud in their regular season finale, taking on Monticello with third place in the Mississippi 8 Conference on the line. The Magic were 8-3 heading into the match up while North Branch was 7-4.
North Branch’s Jake Richards got the nod as the starter after struggling mightily against Chisago Lakes the week before. His struggles continued as he lasted only two and one-third innings, giving up seven hits, seven runs and four walks while only striking out two.
Robillard came into the game for relief, but he gave up three runs and five walks in one and two-thirds innings.
Brodin was the only Viking to record a hit off of Monitcello starter Alex Otto, who went five innings and walked one while striking out six Vikings. Tommy Blackstone had a heck of a day on offense for Monticello as they piled on runs early in this one. The junior went four-for-four with three runs, four RBIs and four stolen bases. In all, the Magic stole eight bases off of North Branch.
North Branch 9, Hermantown 5 The Vikings won their opening round of sections with a 9-5 victory over Hermantown on Tuesday, May 29.
North Branch jumped all over Hawk starter Jayden Isensee, scoring four runs in the first inning and tacking on single runs in the third and fourth inning before chasing Isensee out in the fifth.
The Viking offense added three more in the fifth inning to take a commanding 9-1 lead, and it was academic from there.
Brady Brodin and Dawson Linkert formed a potent tandem in the middle of the lineup, going a combined six-for-eight with four runs and three RBIs. Nick Johnson had a heck of a game for the Vikes, going two-for-three with three RBIs, and Jake Richards added two RBIs on two hits for NB and Zack Pilz had an RBI and a stolen base.
Nick Dufeck pitched a majority of the game for NB, going six and one-third innings and scattering seven hits. Hermantown scored four runs off of him, but only two were earned.
The win sends NB on to face county rival Chisago Lakes on Thursday, May 31 at 7 p.m. at Pat Collins Field in CL.