April 15, 2004 at 6:25 a.m.
North Branch 1
It was one of those games where the final score didn’t necessarily reflect how close the game really was.
Last Monday, facing Forest Lake in their first game of the season, the North Branch Viking baseball team was within striking distance for most of the game, trailing 1-0 after one, 4-1 after three. Yes, the Rangers did open things up by scoring three runs in the fifth to complete a 7-1 win, but for awhile, a clutch hit here, a big play there could’ve changed the game. Right now, it doesn’t matter to Troy Walker that those plays never happened, it just matters that the Vikings were in that position. After going 2-18 last season, you have to start somewhere.
“I was really impressed with how we handled things,” said Walker, North Branch head baseball coach. “We kept it close. It was 4-1 game until they scored some runs at the end, but we definitely had our chances.”
Unfortunately, when you only get one hit in the game, those chances are hard to convert on.
Forest Lake opened the game with a run in the first, followed by three more in the third off Viking starter Jake Anderson.
In the bottom of the third, North Branch got one back. After Joe Ranger led off the inning with a walk, Patrick Ryan followed with a walk, then both runners moved up a base thanks to Jake Anderson. With one out, Dominic Stahley lifted a short fly back to left field. With the shortstop’s back to home plate, Walker sent Ranger from third. The senior slid in just ahead of the tag making it 4-1.
However, that’s all the Vikings would get. Unable to get the big hit, North Branch couldn’t trim the three-run deficit. It bought enough time for Forest Lake to put the game away, scoring three runs in the fifth to complete the 7-1 win.
On the mound, Anderson picked up the loss, going six innings and striking out three. At the plate, Marty Savage picked up the Vikings lone hit.
“Hitting wise, it was kind of what I expected,” replied Walker. “We had our chances. We had a couple of runners on second and third but we couldn’t get them in, we just couldn’t get that big hit we needed.
“But, overall, I liked what I saw,” continued Walker. “Jake pitched well on the mound. We just made some mental mistakes at the end.”
If time heels all wounds, then the Vikings should be 100 percent the next time they take the field. North Branch is off until April 22, when they play Chisago Lakes at home. That game is followed by a double header with Duluth Denfeld and Cloquet on April 24.
Forest Lake 7, North Branch 1
R H E
Forest Lake 103 030 0 7 10 0
North Branch 001 000 0 1 1 3
Ranger 0-1, R, BB
Ryan 0-0, 4 BB
Anderson 0-3, BB
D. Stahley 0-4, RBI
Savage 1-2, BB
Warren 0-1, 2 BB
LP: Anderson (0-1)
6 IP, 3 K, 2 BB