April 19, 2012 at 8:39 a.m.

Errors become glaring as losses mount for NB

Errors become glaring as losses mount for NB
Errors become glaring as losses mount for NB

Spring Lake Park 9, North Branch 7 Despite a huge early deficit, the North Branch baseball squad battled back to make things interesting with Spring Lake Park before eventually falling to the Panthers on Thursday, April 12. The Panthers jumped all over North Branch starter Blake Jorgenson in the first inning, scoring five runs on a cavalcade of hits and North Branch errors. After SLP tacked on one more run in the second inning, North Branch exploded for five runs of their own in the top of the third frame. “We’ve finally started to hit the ball,”

Head Coach Steve Christensen said. “That third inning was fun to coach as each guy stepped to the plate wanting to keep the inning going.” Four doubles were the catalyst to the outburst, and it got NB right back in the game. In the fourth inning, the Panthers added two more runs, but North Branch didn’t wait around much to strike back. In the top of the sixth inning, they had already plated two runs of their own to trim the lead to 8-7 and they had runners at second and third with no outs, ready to take their first lead of the contest. With the top of the order up, the worst case scenario came true for the Vikings. The first two hitters struck out and then the third hitter popped out to end what was a promising threat.

The Panthers tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth for the final tally of 9-7. Travis Anderson, Cole Mattson, Brett Klun, Kevin Johnson, Travis Moreno and Dylan Kraemer all picked up a hit for NB, while Thomas Kinsella had a pair. But, on the defensive side, that bunch committed four errors that led to five unearned runs. Jorgenson made his varsity debut on the mound, and battled control issues as his nerves were high.

He went five and a third innings, giving up nine runs -- only four earned -- on four hits and five walks. He struck out six Panthers. Every batter that Jorgenson walked eventually came in to score. “Blake threw well at times. He really had confidence in the middle innings,” Christensen noted. “Defensively, you need to record 21 outs, and you can't allow teams to have more opportunities by having errors. It's tough to pitch around free baserunners, and walks will haunt you too. “In the end, we had more opportunities to tie or take the lead but let them slip through our grasp.”

Duluth East 8, North Branch 3 In the first half of a doubleheader with the two Duluth teams, North Branch held close to the Greyhounds through five innings, but miscues again did them in again. East scored twice in the opening inning and the score stayed at 2-0 until the fifth inning when North Branch chopped that lead in half with a run of their own. “You could sense it was going to be a close game, then the wheels came off,” Christensen said. The Hounds scored five times in the top of the sixth inning, stretching the lead to 7-1. Although the Vikes tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, time wasn’t on their side as they lost 8-3 after East added another tally.

Kraemer, Klun and Anderson were the only Vikings to get hits, with Klun picking up a pair. Kinsella started the game, going five innings and giving up six runs on nine hits. He struck out seven battles, but was saddled with the loss. His defense committed five errors behind him. “Thomas pitched a good game, but we had some defensive troubles that made for some long innings,” the skipper said after the loss. “Also, struggles at the plate continue, but there are many things the guys are doing well. They need to continue to have confidence as we move forward and they'll be hitting the ball well.” Duluth Denfeld 10, North Branch 2 The Vikes stayed winless on the season after Duluth Denfeld put up a 10 spot on them in the second half of the Duluth doubleheader.

The Hunters had a sudden infusion of talent in the last year, as Duluth Central closed, and many of the student-athletes migrated to Denfeld. Again, North Branch started in a big hole, surrendering three first inning runs and playing from behind the rest of the time. Johnson started for the Vikings after pitching the last inning and two thirds in the East game. “While our game times overlapped a bit, Kevin was able to pitch in both games, and I give him credit for stepping up in that situation,” Christensen said.

The Vikings drew within two runs after scoring in the second inning, but Denfeld scored four in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh to quell any rally thoughts by North Branch. Anderson, Mattson, Klun, Jared Axberg, Kinsella and Moreno picked up the hits for NB while Johnson went four innings, giving up four unearned runs as NB booted the ball three times early.


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