High School Baseball
Vikings continue win streak
by Doug Gorman
Northgate’s impressive win streak on the baseball diamond against Region 4-AAAAA opponents continued Thursday with a 4-3 victory over Union Grove.
With the victory, the Vikings (6-7, 5-2 in 4-AAAAA) have reeled off four straight wins against 4-AAAAA foes.
The decision against the Wolverines (5-7, 4-3) was Northgate’s second one-run victory in less than 24 hours after holding off McIntosh 3-2 behind pitcher Blake Whitney’s complete game victory.
Pitching again helped carry the Vikings to Thursday’s victory as Armond Upshaw pitched five innings to earn a decision before reliever Chad Green came on in the sixth while picking up a save.
“Pitching really came through for us,” head coach Greg Hamilton said. “Our guy threw well tonight.”
Upshaw struck out six, walked four and left with a 4-3 lead before surrendering the baseball to Green, who had a key strikeout in the sixth to highlight his two innings of work. Afterward, the Wolverines managed to get runner Jake McFarland to second with two outs only to have him cut down on an attempted steal on a relay from catcher Jonathan Hamilton to third-baseman Chase Allen, ending the inning.
Union Grove tried to rally again in the top of the seventh when Stephen Cleary walked a went to second on Adam Burnett’s sacrifice, but Green preserved the win with a fly to center before fielding a comeback grounder to the mound.
The Vikings always seemed to have an answer to Union Grove on Thursday.
Upshaw struck out the side in the second while running the count full to the his final two batters in the inning.
He also ran the count full on the batter he struck out in the third,.
Northgate outhit the Vikings 8-2 and overcame four errors in the contest to keep its winning streak intact.
Upshaw helped his own cause with a two hit performance, including a double.
Allen finished the contest with a hit and three RBIs for the Vikings.
Buddy Green and Allen each doubled to help open the scoring in the fourth inning, with the latter scoring both Green and Andrew Burden, who walked, for a 2-0 lead.
Union Grove cut the lead to 2-1 when Jarred Jones homered for the Wolverines.
Northgate had a chance to break the game open in the fourth when Connor Wilson doubled, but a pickoff resulted in the second out of the inning.
Hamilton kept the inning alive for the Vikings with a three-base error, before courtesy runner Chris Brittan scored on a wild pitch for a 3-1 lead.
The Wolverines made the game interesting when they pushed two men cross the plate to tie the game 3-3 in the fifth. Union Grove, though, just as quickly hurt its chances to go ahead when McFarland was picked off at third for the final out of the inning.
Northgate pushed the go-ahead run across the plate on Allen’s sacrifice fly.
The Vikings had a golden opportunity to increase their lead in the sixth when Wilson singled and Hamilton doubled, but Wilson was thrown out trying to score from first.
It’s a play the coach puts on himself.
“That was totally my fault,” he said. “I sent him and I should not have done that.”
The Vikings busy week of three region games concludes tonight at home against Mt. Zion-Jonesboro at home.
Despite the winning streak, Northgate is just going to take it one game at time.
“We are playing pretty good right now,” said Hamilton.“But we can’t overlook anybody.”
Northgate remains two games behind 4-AAAAA leader Whitewater and one behind Starr’s Mill while tied with McIntosh (8-2, 3-2) and Mundy’s Mill (4-4, 3-2) for third in the region. While holding a tiebreaker with the Chiefs, the Vikings can also move ahead of Mundy’s Mill with a win at home over the Tigers next Wednesday.
VIKINGS 4, WOLVERINES 3
UNION GROVE 000 120 0—3 2 4
NORTHGATE 002 110 X—4 8 4
WP Armond Upshaw
LP Kyle Spinks
S Chad Green