Prep Baseball: Whitney helps give Northgate a lift in shutout
By DOUG GORMAN
It’s been a busy week for the Northgate Vikings baseball team.
Facing three games in three days, it’s important pitching comes through for head coach Greg Hamilton’s team.
Just 24 hours earlier, the Vikings beat Woodward Academy 6-3 in eight innings.
Northgate concludes its week tonight on the road against Starr’s Mill to open the Region 4-AAAAA schedule.
(To view photos from the Northgate vs. Northside-Columbus game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)
Against the Patriots on Thursday, Northgate pounded out nine hits, made just one error and cruised to the victory behind some key hits, timely fielding and quality pitching.
Whitney’s diving curveball helped him stay out front of the Patriots’ lineup most of the night.
The Patriots only had base runners in scoring position in the second and third innings, but the Vikings squelched the Northside threats.
“He threw a wonderful game,” said Hamilton. “He got a little bit tired in the sixth, but he pitched out of it.”
If Whitney was showing signs of fatigue in the sixth, he didn’t show it, ending the inning with a strikeout. After Whitney left the game in the sixth, relief pitcher Jonathan Fleckenstein came in and did a outstanding job in relief. Fleckenstein allowed just one hit, and struck out two in his one inning of work.
Leading 3-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Northgate added three insurance runs to help secure the victory.
Leadoff hitter James Poropatic drove in Blake Helton and Conner Wilson with a double and Armond Upshaw followed with a double to score Poropatic to account for the explosive, three-run sixth inning.
“That was big to get those hits and runs in the sixth,” Hamilton said. “We have been kind of sporadic with our hitting, but everybody came through today.”
The top of Northgate’s lineup displayed plenty of firepower.
Upshaw finished the game with two doubles and a run scored and an RBI. Poropatic and designated hitter Spencer Perry also had two hits apiece. Perry helped the Vikings take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning after smashing a leadoff double. He went to third on left-fielder Jason Schmidts’ single, and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Northgate added two more runs in the third inning to go up 3-0.
Perry added an RBI to score Poropatic, and Upshaw crossed the plate with the second run of the inning when he scored on a groundout.
Michael Rossi led the way for the Patriots with hits in the second and fifth, but Northgate found ways to pitch around Northside’s rally attempts.
After Rossi’s two-out double in the second, Josh Walker grounded out to Chase Walker to end the inning.
Northside lead-off hitter Rob Shayne started the third reaching on an error, but Northgate catcher Jonathan Hamilton threw a perfect ball down to second to end the steal attempt.
Whitney retired the side in order in fourth, finishing the inning when he got Chad Pigg to strikeout swinging.
Northside put one base runner on with an error in the fifth, but he also collected two strikeouts in the inning.
He also had a strikeout to end his day on the mound in the sixth.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Vikings. Tonight they travel to Fayetteville to take on Starr’s Mill in a Region 4-AAAAA game. The first pitch is set for 7 p.m.
Temperatures are expected to down around the freezing mark for the opener, but Hamilton is anxious to see if the Vikings can keep the winning streak going against the Panthers.
“They have a good baseball team over there,” he said. “It is going to be cold, but we just have to go in there and see what happens. We will be ready.”