By Victoria Dahlin—
After starting out the season slow, the North Branch bats got hot with the Vikings coming out victorious in both games played last week giving them a four game winning streak.
Up first, Spring Lake Park came to North Branch May 14 and was sent home with a 11-5 loss.
Brett Klun had two runs, two hits including a homerun and four RBIs (runs batted in); Thomas Kinsella had one run, three hits and five RBIs; Travis Anderson one run and two hits; Cole Mattson three runs; Kevin Johnson and Travis Moreno two hits and two runs; while Cody Knobbe and Michael Naggatz had one hit each.
Johnson pitched to 24 batters and allowed four runs and six hits; Zach Faribanks faced five, allowing one run and one hit; Blake Jorgenson pitched to three and allowed no runs or hits; while Jared Axberg threw to two and allowed no runs or hits.
The Vikings had 11 runs, 14 hits and one error, while the Panthers had five runs, seven hits and two errors.
“Kevin pitched a great game, he kept the hitters off balance and the defense played well,” said Coach Steve Christensen. Brett has been hitting the ball well all season, he’s fun to watch run the bases. We had a hit-and-run on, and he hit it out of the park. That’s one way to do it. Thomas and Cody had a ‘Web Gem’ play. With a runner on first, a ball was hit up the middle, Cody fielded the ball to his right and glove-flipped it to Thomas covering the bag. To add to the excitement, Thomas bare-handed the catch.”
Last Wednesday the Vikings started the scoring when they hosted the Wildcats and led 1-0 until the fourth inning.
Chisago Lakes came back to tie it, but in the bottom of the fourth, the first four North Branch batters reached base and scored to take a 5-1 lead.
Klun and Mattson got on base and scored on a two-RBI single off the bat of Kinsella. Jordan Franklin came into the game to run for Kinsella, Kerry Konrad reached base by a walk, Franklin scored on a passed ball and Konrad scored on a two-out base hit from Johnson.
North Branch had a 5-1 lead in the seventh, but after all was said and done, Chisago Lakes scored four to tie it up 5-5 sending the game into an extra inning.
Then in the tie-breaking inning, Kinsella reached base, Josh Benolken came in to run and Konrad laid a perfect bunt down to advance Benolken to second base.
With an open base, Chisago Lakes intentionally walked Knobbe to have a force out, and that brought up Jake Schmitz, who walked on four pitches, loading up the bases with one out.
Johnson came to the plate, and on the first pitch, hit a fly ball that was caught, but Benolken tagged up and scored on a head first slide as the ball skipped past the Wildcat catcher to give the Vikings the 6-5 win.
Jorgenson faced 25 batters, allowing two runs and six hits, while Kinsella pitched to 11 and allowed three runs and two hits.
North Branch had six runs, nine hits and five errors, while Chisago Lakes Area had five runs, eight hits and two errors.
“Blake was in demand on the mound,” said Coach Christensen. “He kept us in the game firing seven strikeouts in six plus innings. We’ve had some clutch hitting, it’s fun to watch. I was glad we came out with the win. They worked so hard, had a few mistakes, but we were able to get out with a win.”
The North Branch baseball team has a 5-9 North Suburban Conference and 6-13 overall record. The Vikings will travel to Cambridge-Isanti High School to face the Bluejackets (9-4 record) at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 25 before beginning section playoffs at 4:30 p.m. at the home of the high seed Wednesday, May 30.
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