June 2, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
Bad weather may have forced some changes to the Vikings' game with the Patriots, but it didn't keep it from happening.
The two teams were supposed to play on the first night of the St. Cloud Apollo Tournament, but because of nasty rain that weekend, the whole tourney was washed out.
Despite the change in venue and date, North Branch decided to still travel down to Cassidy Park in Minneapolis to take on Minneapolis Patrick Henry as their last tune up before sections. And it was a good one.
The Vikings belted out the first three runs of the game in the top of the first to create some early separation for starting pitcher Kevin Johnson.
North Branch basically put the game out of reach in the third inning when they added five more runs to their total to go up 8-0.
With Johnson dealing, it seemed only a matter of time before Henry went down.
Although the Pats scored a run in the bottom of the third to bust up the shut out, North Branch answered back with four runs in the top of the fourth to make it 12-1. That tally would stand as the final score after five innings.
Thomas Kinsella, Tim Katka, Tanner Danks and Andy Freel had multi-hit games for North Branch, with Kinsella going three-for-three with five RBIs and two runs.
Freel went two-for-two with three RBI and two runs. Katka was two-for-three with two runs and an RBI and Danks scored three runs. Johnson helped his own cause by belting a two-run double at the plate.
Johnson got the win, going four innings and giving up only two hits and one run. He struck out four Patriots on the day. "Kevin pitched well today," Head Coach Steve Christensen said. "He threw strikes and got outs."
Dylan Kraemer finished out the game by going one scoreless inning with four strikeouts. He achieved the rare feat by striking out every single batter he faced in the inning, but one of the batters reached on a passed ball third strike. It counts as a 'K' in the scorebook, but the runner is entitled to first if the catcher can't corral the ball.
"We hit the ball well, and took advantage of some mistakes, but we weren't perfect either," Christensen said. "There are definitely some things we need to shore up before playoffs."
Sections started for North Branch on Wednesday, June 1, after the County Press went to print. The Vikings drew the seventh seed with their 8-10 record on the year and were scheduled to play Princeton in the opening round, who was seeded 10th with a record of 6-11 out of the Mississippi 8 Conference.
The winner of the game is scheduled to face second-seeded St. Francis on Friday, June 3 at 4:30 at St. Francis.