April 21, 2011 at 9:55 a.m.

NB on losing end of high-scoring affair

NB on losing end of high-scoring affair
NB on losing end of high-scoring affair

After topping Fridley last week in a back-and-forth 12-8 shootout, the North Branch softball team came out on the short end of a high-scoring affair this week.

St. Louis Park 10, North Branch 8

The Vikings drew first blood in the North Suburban Conference match up. They scored three runs in the first two innings. The first came on a manufactured run by MiKayla Carlson. After she reached on a fielders choice, she stole second, moved over to third on a sacrifice and scored on an Oriole error.

The Vikes added two more in the next frame on a hit, an SLP error, two walks and a sacrifice fly by Kallie Grote.

St. Louis Park struck back, doing their damage with their bats. In the fourth inning, they knocked out five straight singles before drawing a walk and a hit batter. The seven consecutive runners plated three runs for the Orioles and tied the game.

In the top of the fifth inning, St. Louis Park took their first lead of the game on back-to-back doubles, but North Branch answered with three straight singles in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 4.

With a tense game hanging in the balance, St. Louis Park rose to the occasion in the sixth inning. They drew three walks, poked out two singles and puncuated the inning with a three-run homer that put them ahead 10-4.

After trimming the lead to 10-5 in the bottom half of the inning, North Branch started a rally in the last inning. They got four singles and one run to start the inning off by Chelsea Tollberg, Chelsey Emery-Snaza, Grote and Kelci Lofboom. A St. Louis Park error allowed two more Vikings' to score, and just like that, North Branch had the winning run at the plate.

However, a base running error and two infield flies later, the rally died and North Branch lost their second straight game.

"It was pretty even game, but they were able to bunch there 10 hits together in three innings to score there runs," Head Coach Ron Trunk said after the conference defeat. "We had base runners in every inning but some poor base running took us out of some possible big innings."

Lofboom took the loss, giving up 10 runs in five and two-thirds innings. She gave up 10 hits and walked four while striking out three Orioles. Trunk kept SLP in check the last inning and a third in relief.

St. Francis 5, North Branch 4

The Vikes' pitching finally settled down, but their offense -- nor their defense -- couldn't get it going as they dropped their third straight contest late last week.

St. Francis struck first in the opening inning on two North Branch errors and a sacrifice bunt.

The Vikings did a majority of their damage in the top of the fourth inning. Alley Carlson, Tollberg, Kari Berggren and Grote all poked singles around the field, and a fielders choice by Emery-Snaza was sandwiched in between. The bats gave North Branch a 3-1 lead. 

They extended it to 4-1 in the fifth on three straight singles by Trunk, MiKayla Carlson and Tollberg.

Just as if it seemed Trunk was cruising along to her first victory of the year, St. Francis cut the deficit to two in the bottom of the fifth when Trunk shot herself in the foot. She walked three batters to load the bases and then proceeded to throw a wild pitch that allowed a runner to score. However, she kept the Vikes' in the lead when she struck out the hitter to end the inning with runners on second and third.

North Branch stuck with Trunk to go the whole way, and St. Francis made them pay in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Saints drew a walk, poked two singles in play and two North Branch errors allowed all three runners to score eventually, giving St. Francis the walk-off win.

Trunk pitched the whole game, giving up five runs, only one of which was earned, on nine St. Francis hits.

"This was a tough loss for us -- the kids really played hard.," Ron Trunk said. "We have continued to make progress offensively, collecting hits and scoring runs, compared to last season"

Defense was the Achilles heel for North Branch in this game, as they committed four errors that led to four St. Francis runs.


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