Northgate quickly bounces back, blanks Mt. Zion
by Doug Gorman
Northgate baseball coach Greg Hamilton might not be too sure which side of his baseball team is going to show up these days.
The Vikings have been on a roller coaster ride most of the season, easily winning some games, and coming up short against others.
But coming off a disappointing extra-inning loss at McIntosh, the Vikings took a step in the right direction on Wednesday, rolling to a 10-0 victory over visiting Mt. Zion in a game called after five innings.
With the victory, Northgate kept hold of the fourth and final region playoff spot, pushing its overall record to 15-7 and 12-5 in league play.
The Vikings began the week on a high after rolling past Ola on the road Saturday. Those emotions vanished in Monday’s 6-5 loss at McIntosh in a game where Northgate was three outs away from a potential two-run victory.
Northgate’s up and down play has left the Vikings needing to win just about every time they take the field during the remaining three region games.
Wednesday’s victory came despite a slow start through the first two innings and also striking out six times.
“We didn’t play that good tonight,” Hamilton said. “We just didn’t hit the ball like I thought we could.”
Despite Hamilton’s critique of the game, there were plenty of bright spots in the victory.
“We want to play error-free baseball and we accomplished that tonight,” he said. “That is a good thing.”
The Vikings also picked up a solid performance from pitcher Blake Whitney, who allowed just one hit while striking out three and walking one.
At first, the Vikings had a tough time figuring out Mt. Zion starting pitcher Reginald Vaughn who walked five Northgate batters, but also struck out five.
Northgate had a chance to break the game open after walks in the first and second, but the Vikings stranded three runners through the first two innings.
It took a third-inning wake-up call for the Vikings to finally pull away from the Bulldogs’ with a seven-run explosion. Northgate broke the game open after sending 12 to the plate.
Andrew Burden returned to the lineup and drove in two runs with a double to help the Vikings offense final catch fire in the inning. Leadoff hitter James Poropatic batted twice and doubled twice with an RBI. Armond Upshaw also reached twice and scored once in the inning. Tyler Dahlberg singled an finished the inning with a RBI. Buddy Green and Jonathan Hamilton also reached and scored runs for the Vikings.
Northgate ended the contest with by the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth as it scored the final three runs of the game.
The inning started when Blake Helton walked, stole second and scored when Hamilton reached on an error.
Poropatic and Dahlberg each drove in a run with singles. Dahlberg and Burden finished the game with two RBIs each.
The Vikings close out the regular season with games at home at Drew on Friday, Mundy’s Mill at home on Monday, and at home against Creekside on Tuesday.
Northgate also is scheduled to play a non-region game a week from Saturday at Luella.