May 26, 2011 at 9:16 a.m.
The Vikings scored three unearned runs in the top of the first inning, thanks to the Wildcats' three errors of the game. In the bottom of the first, the Vikings matched the Wildcats' bad defense with some bad pitching, walking five batters to hand two runs to the Wildcats and cut the Viking lead to 3-2.
In the top of the third, Viking Brett Klun led off with a single to right and stole second. Tanner Danks walked with one out. Wildcat starter Travis Ongstad uncorked two wild pitches, scoring Klun and sending Danks to third. Thomas Kinsella ripped a single up the middle to drive in Danks. But Ongstad struck out the next two batters, keeping the Viking lead at 5-2. In the bottom of the inning, Ongstad led off with a shot past the third baseman down the line and hustled into second for a double, followed by w walk to Tyler Rivard. Two outs later, Wildcat Scott Hammer was hit by a pitch to load the bases. It looked like the Vikings would get out of the jam as Riley Doriott hit a popup into short left field. But the Vikings dropped the ball, allowing two runs to score and again cutting their lead to 5-4.
After the Vikings went down 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth, the Wildcats went right to work building their first lead of the game. Wildcat Kyle Buchanan walked to lead off the bottom of the fourth. With the count 1-2, Ongstad got the fat part of the bat on the ball and drilled a no-doubter way over the Blue Bunny sign in left field to give the Wildcats a 6-5 lead.
The lead didn't last long. Klun led off the top of the fifth for the Vikings with a walk. Christian Ehrnriter singled to left to move Klun to second. Danks then followed with a laser to left that smacked into the wall on the fly for a two-run double, putting the Vikings back ahead 7-6. Danks stole third. After Kinsella lined out to center, Tyler Zondlo and Tim Katka walked to load the bases. Rivard came in to pitch for the Wildcats and immediately restored order for the Wildcats. He got Andy Freel to pop out to first and struck out Cole Mattson to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Buchanan led off with a walk for the Wildcats. Ongstad hit a hard two hopper toward second that looked like a potential double play ball. But the ball hit the lip of the infield grass and super-balled over Zondlo's head for a single, with Buchanan scampering all the way to third. Buchanan scored on a wild pitch to tie the game, with the hustling Ongstad going all the way to third. After Rivard struck out, Thompson hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Ongstad with the go-ahead run. Joe LaBarre was hit by a pitch and Nick Randall came in to pinch run for him. The Vikings tried to pick Randall off first, but a bad throw ended up down the right field line and Randall raced all the way to third. Pinch hitter Hunter Lindstrom then ripped a single to right, scoring Randall to increase the Wildcat lead to 9-7.
Wildcat Rivard walked Viking Zondlo to lead off the top of the seventh. One out later, pinch hitter Travis Moreno hit a dribbler toward third. Ongstad charged it, picked it up and fired on the run. His low throw barely beat Moreno, but Doriott couldn't quite make the scoop and the Vikings had runners on first and second. Rivard got Cole Mattson to pop out to short for the second out. He worked the count to Travis Anderson to 1-2. He then froze Anderson with a sinker at the knees on the inside corner for a called third strike, and the Wildcats had an exciting 9-7 win.
"That's how these games with North Branch always go," said Wildcat Assistant Coach Jay Brown. "The records coming in don't mean anything and there's always some kind of excitement. We caught the ball a little better after a bad first inning on defense. Rivard stopped the bleeding in the fifth and ended up picking up his second win, and our second win, of the year."
"This is a tough loss to bear," North Branch Head Coach Steve Christensen said. "When you get guys on base, you're always hoping for that clutch hit to bring you to the top. He had some, but not enough.