Kari leads NB offense and pitching on season
After earning the 11th seed heading into Section 7AAA play last week, the North Branch baseball team traveled to Forest Lake for a preliminary round with sixth-seeded Forest Lake.
The Rangers and Vikings remained scoreless after two innings, but Forest Lake appeared on the scoreboard with one run in both the third and fourth innings.
North Branch responded in the top of the fifth inning to close the gap at 2-1, but the home team blew the game wide open with a five-run stretch in the bottom of the fifth to cap the score and the seal the win at 7-1.
Senior Jacob Kari went 4.1 innings on the mound while striking out five batters, walking one and giving up seven hits. Junior Charlie Linder replaced Kari on the mound and struck out one batter, walked three while giving up no hits.
Kari and junior Logan Mueller led the offense, recording the Viking’s two hits on the day.
For the season, Kari and junior Nick Pilz led the force from the plate. Kari led the team in several categories, including batting average (.435), on-base percentage (.500). slugging percentage (.521) and RBIs (12).
Pilz led in doubles with five, hits (27) and runs with 17 of North Branch’s 77 this season.
The Vikings hit .236 as a team, but found their strength in base running. The speedsters were 22-27 this season in stolen bases with Pilz going 6-6 and senior Ethan Fairbanks and junior Maverick Pate both going 4-4.
On the mound, Kari pitched 45.2 innings for the Vikings for an ERA of 2.76. The lefty was 2-3 on the season with 39 strikeouts. Pilz pitched 26 innings with 18 strikeouts, while Linder put in 21 innings and 19 strikeouts.
North Branch was 5-15 overall, 2-9 in Section 7AAA and 3-10 in their first season in the Mississippi 8 Conference.