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May 20, 2019

5/16/2019 1:47:00 PM
NB earns first win of the year, walking off on Hibbing 5-4

The 2019 season has not be an easy one for the North Branch baseball team.

They’ve had some tough pitching performances at times, but then when they get a nice start, they’ve had trouble scoring runs.

Nothing much has worked for them, but it all came together for one half inning against the Hibbing Bluejackets on Friday, May 10.

The Vikings hosted Hibbing on the beautiful Friday afternoon, and North Branch happened to strike first in the third inning.

Lead off man and career hits leader for North Branch Clint Mattson stroked a hit to the outfield, scoring Garrett Anderson and giving North Branch a 1-0 lead.

Starting pitcher Jordan Axberg was cruising through the Hibbing lineup for the most part, but he ran into trouble in the fifth and sixth innings. He gave up a two spot in the fifth and then allowed a couple hits in the sixth inning before giving way to Shey Stepp.

Stepp allowed two of the inherited runners to score, which put NB in a 4-1 hole with just the sixth and seventh innings left. The bats went quietly in the sixth inning, but Stepp kept NB’s deficit at just three in the top of the seventh, which set the stage for some red and white dramatics.

A mix of hits and errors led to four North Branch runs in the bottom of the seventh. The biggest hit was a two-run double off the bat of senior Jake Richards, which scored two runs for the Vikings. The other runs in the inning was unearned for North Branch, but they needed a few breaks their way, and they took advantage of them when they came, beating Hibbing 5-4.

Stepp ended up earning the win, going one and two-thirds inning and giving up just the one hit. Richards had two hits, including the big two RBI double in the seventh inning. Anderson had one hit and two runs. Mattson and Mason DeFrance also had hits for NB.

Jordan Axberg went five and one-third inning, giving up four runs on four hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.

The win was North Branch’s first of the year as they now sport a 1-14 record. They took on Chisago Lakes earlier this week and have four more chances to up their win total with two games against St. Francis, one versus Hermantown and one against Mound Westonka.

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