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July 16, 2018

5/11/2018 11:03:00 AM
Linkert finishes comeback with walk off double against Rogers

Hermantown 9, North Branch 1
One of North Branch’s best pitchers had been missing in action early in the season, and when Brady Brodin made his season debut against Hermantown last week, he showed some of the rust that usually comes from recovering.

Brodin, who was at times North Branch’s ace last year, tossed just three innings and gave up three runs and seven hits and struck out only one as the Vikings lost 9-1 to section rival Hermantown on Monday, April 30.

The Vikings’ lone RBI came on a double from Lucas Jensen-Schneider that scored Nick Johnson, and that trimmed Hermantown’s fifth inning lead to just 3-1, but the Hawks answered back with four runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to run away with a 9-1 win.

Johnson went two-for-two on the game with a walk and Clint Mattson went two-for-four for North Branch.

Brodin took the loss, but Dylan Ramberg struggled mightily in relief, giving up six runs in just three and two thirds innings.

St. Michael Albertville 14, North Branch 3
Jake Richards and the Vikings navigated the first three innings fairly well against the Class 4A Knights, but a disastrous sixth inning spelled trouble for NB.

St. Michael scored first in the top of the first, but North Branch quickly struck back in the bottom of the first with one run of their own.

After a scoreless second frame, St. Michael hung up two more on Richards in the third inning, but the resilient North Branch offense matched that in the bottom half of the inning, tying the score at 3.

But, St. Michael-Albertville’s onslaught continued, with the Knights scoring two in the fourth and the fifth inning, and North Branch didn’t have an answer for those runs.
In the top of the sixth, STMA broke the game wide open with a seven run inning, doubling their runs from seven to 14 and putting the game mostly out of reach for the Vikings in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

Richards, Dawson Linkert and Johnson all collected RBIs for North Branch, and Dillyn Negley and Clint Mattson each had two hits.

North Branch 5, Rogers 4
The Vikings dug themselves a deep hole early, going down 4-0 in the first three innings against Rogers, but they responded with late runs, capped off by a two-run walk off double by senior Dawson Linkert to snap NB’s losing streak at three.

Nick Dufeck toed the rubber for North Branch as they were playing their third game in four days, and he pitched a strong game. Of the four runs given up, only two were earned and Dufeck went six and two-thirds innings, striking out three and scattering just five hits.

Because of the pitch count rules, he wasn’t able to finish the game, as Negley came on in relief for the last batter. Negley got the out, setting the North Branch offense up for the dramatic win.

They were in that spot because they got a single run in the fourth inning from Clint Mattson’s bat, and then they scored two on a hit by Negley and an error by Rogers, trimming the lead to 4-3.

In the seventh, Aaron Robillard and Mattson both worked their way on base by way of free passes to set the stage for Linkert. The senior outfielder ripped a two bagger that scored both runners and got the NB bench up and jumping in celebration.

“Dawson had a nice cut and just shot the gap,” Head Coach Steve Christensen said after the game.

Negley earned one of the easiest wins of his career, throwing just two pitches for one out. Dufeck got the hard luck no decision because of the pitch count.

Duluth Denfeld 17, North Branch 8
The Vikings’ gas tanks were just about on empty after the emotional win. They hosted Duluth Denfeld in what was their fourth game of the week, and while the offense was cooking, the pitching staff was depleted.

Ramberg and Negley combined to throw six innings, but they gave up 12 hits, eight walks and 17 runs to the Hunters. Ramberg was saddled with the loss after giving up a five spot in the first inning.

The closest North Branch got after that first inning was when they put up five runs combined in the third and fourth inning, getting to within two at 7-5. But the Hunters scored six runs in the fifth inning to squash any comeback hopes.

The offense was led by Mattson. The senior infielder went four-for-four with a walk, two RBIs, and two runs.

Robillard, Negley and Linkert all had two hits each and Negley and Linkert both had two RBIs.  The top four hitters in the lineup combined to go 10-for-16 with six RBIs and four runs, but the bottom half of the lineup combined to go four-of-16 with two runs.

North Branch’s schedule gets even more daunting this week. They took on Cambridge-Isanti and St. Francis earlier this week on Tuesday and Wednesday and will take on Princeton, Cambridge-Isanti and Cloquet on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, lining them up for five games in five days barring any rainouts.

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