May 31, 2007 at 7:59 a.m.
North Branch 3
Viking pitcher Tony Dahlberg took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. However, the Wildcats made their two sixth-inning hits count as they scored four runs to overcome a 3-1 deficit and beat the Vikings 5-3 Friday, May 25 at Chisago Lakes. The Wildcats set a school record with their 18th win of the season.
In the top of the second, Viking Danny Ginal singled and Drew Lundquist walked to put runners at first and second. Sam Johnson's sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third. Ginal scored on Mark Johnson's single and Lundquist scored on Ben Meemken's ground ball back to the pitcher to put the Vikings up 2-0.
Mark Johnson moved to third on a wild pitch and Justin Novak was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners with two outs. Novak took off a little too early, attempting to steal second, and Wildcat pitcher Mike Welle ran at him. As Novak danced back and forth, Johnson took off from third. Welle whirled and whipped the ball toward home, but Johnson scored easily to put the Vikings up 3-0. On the next pitch, Welle picked Novak off of second to end the Viking threat.
Chris Wille led off fifth inning and reached on an error and Welle was hit by a pitch. Ross Jones sacrificed the runners to second and third and Bob LeVasseur walked to load the bases. Tommy Fitzer then ripped the first pitch he saw down the first base line and it looked like it was headed into the right field corner. First baseman Ginal made a great stop to rob Fitzer of an extra base hit. He stepped on first and whirled to fire the ball home. Wille's great headfirst dive beat catcher Sam Johnson's tag, and the Wildcats were on the board.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Eric Reed lined a 1-2 pitch off the top of the wall in left field, breaking up Dahlberg's no-hitter. Wille and Welle walked to load the bases. Jones was hit by a pitch to drive in the Wildcats' second run.
Chris Becklin replaced Dahlberg on the mound for the Vikes. Andy Slagle walked to drive in a run and tie the game. After Tom Fitzer fouled to short left, Adam Gemuenden stepped up to the plate. The Vikings shifted the outfield toward right. On a 1-1 pitch, Gemuenden went the other way, dumping a fly ball down the left field line that dropped in for a double Welle and Jones scored giving the Wildcats a 5-3 lead.
Mark Johnson reached on an error to start the top of the seventh for the Vikings. Meemken then ripped an 0-2 pitch down the left field line that looked like it might go for extra bases, but left fielder Hollister made a nice running. Wildcats pitcher Ryan Rivard, who had replaced Welle to start the sixth inning, set down the next two batters to nail the 5-3 win for the Wildcats.
"The Vikings always play us tough," said Wildcat head coach Pat Collins. "We beat them 4-3 to open the season and had another exciting game today. We got behind early, but battled hard and came back to win. It's good for our guys to see what a close game is like."
Collins then talked about setting the school record for wins. "Setting the record is a tribute to every kid who has played here in the past," he said. "Look how long it has taken us to get this far." XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Notes: It was senior day for the Wildcats, as Collins put all nine seniors in the starting lineup. The only junior who started the game was catcher Eric Reed, and the only other junior who appeared in the game was pitcher Ryan Rivard.
A North Suburban Conference official presented the Wildcats with the conference championship trophy after the game.
The top-seeded Wildcats (18-2 overall, 13-1 conference) were scheduled to face eighth-seeded Big Lake in a Section 7AAA South Subsection game Tuesday, May 29 at Chisago Lakes. If the Wildcats win that game, they'll face the winner of the Tuesday game between fourth-seeded Forest Lake and fifth-seeded Elk River. That game will be played at Chisago Lakes today, Thursday, May 31. If the Wildcats win that game, they'll go into the four-team double-elimination section 7AAA tournament to be played June 4-6 at Forest Lake and Chisago Lakes.
The Vikings (5-15 overall, 2-12 conference), seeded sixth in the North Subsection of Section 7AAA, were scheduled to travel to Ordean Filed in Duluth to take on third-seeded Duluth East Tuesday, May 29. If they win that game, the Vikings will face the winner of the second-seeded Grand Rapids vs. seventh-seeded Hibbing game. If Grand Rapids wins, the Vikings would play at Grand Rapids today. If Hibbing wins, the Vikings will get a home game. If the Vikings win both games, they'll advance to the section final tournament described in the preceding paragraph.