High School Baseball
Vikings cruise to seventh straight region win
by Chris Goltermann
On a day where at least one other Region 4-AAAAA baseball team battling for a state playoff berth took a step in the wrong direction, Northgate made sure to avoid a similar fate against Mundy’s Mill.
The Vikings came out swinging for 10 runs in their first at bat against the Tigers and soured any chance of a potential upset bid in a 13-1 victory in five innings.
The win, coupled by McIntosh’s 6-1 loss to Ola, kept Northgate in the thick of the playoff hunt among seven schools that have separated themselves from the pack in 4-AAAAA.
Mundy’s Mill, which was coming off a one-run loss on Monday to Ola, had the potential to be overlooked by the Vikings — especially with a huge two-game stretch on the horizon next week with games against 4-AAAAA leaders Whitewater (12-0, 8-0) and Starr’s Mill (10-4, 6-2).
Instead, Northgate rattled Mundy’s Mill starter Ricky Butts for seven hits while sending 14 men to the plate in its first at bat. The Vikings took what was offered from the Tigers’ right-hander, taking four pitches the other way including RBI singles from Jonathan Hamilton and James Poropatic — both of whom were among four players with multiple-hit games.
“I thought we hit the ball well that first inning,” said Northgate head coach Greg Hamilton of a first-inning outburst that had six consecutive batters reach and score. “They’re a good team. They’ve shown that this year, so getting out like that was a big help. In this region, you can win 10 games in a row and then have one mess things up for you.”
Northgate padded a 10-0 lead with two runs in the second and another in the fourth in a game that ended early by the mercy rule. The team didn’t commit an error while stranding five Tigers baserunners in the process.
The Vikings have now won seven consecutive 4-AAAAA games heading into Friday’s home game with winless Creekside (0-7, 0-5), which played unbeaten Whitewater on Wednesday.
“I’ve been pleased with our pitching of late and we’ve been playing good defense partly because of that,” Hamilton said of the streak. “It goes a long way. We’ve got a big couple of games coming up.”
The Wildcats, who come to Northgate next Wednesday, have won 12 straight to start the season, with a 8-6 win over Newnan on Feb. 22 the closest that any of a dozen opponents have come to knocking off the team so far.
On Wednesday, pitching continued to be a strong suit for Northgate in its recent surge.
Armand Upshaw and Chad Green combined on a one-hitter. The pair combined for nine strikeouts, six of which from Upshaw, who got out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the second inning after walking two and hitting Marquis Kempson with a pitch.
Mundy’s Mill scored its lone run in the fourth off a walk, a stolen base, a dropped third-strike and a groundout. Rodney Smith beat out a squib single past the mound in the fifth with two outs off Green before he retired his next batter to close the win.
It wasn’t without a few concerns, though. Upshaw — who went 3-for-3 — complained of wrist pain when coming to the mound to start the fourth inning after making a slide earlier in the game. After chatting with Hamilton, he left and was replaced by Green.
Andrew Burden, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, began the game by taking a fastball to his inner thigh after squaring to bunt, leaving a hefty bruise.
“We’ve got two guys that have injuries that we’re not quite sure about,” Hamilton said. “Armand said he bent his wrist back pretty good.”
Burden’s blow instigated the first inning rally, where Northgate’s No. 2 through 7 batters reached base on singles by Upshaw and Jonathan Hamilton and an RBI double by Jordan Schmits over third base to with a walk and a throwing error on a routine grounder to second that saw Angelo Rivera collide hard with Mundy’s Mill first-baseman Javonte Campbell.
It concluded with four consecutive singles atop the order, including Upshaw’s second hit of the inning.
Schmits finished 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs in the win while Jonathan Hamilton went 2-for-3 with drove in a pair of runs. Poropatic finished 2-for-4.
VIKINGS 13, TIGERS 1, five innings
Mundy’s Mill 000 10 — 1 1 3
Northgate (10) 02 1X — 13 15 0
WP — Armand Upshaw
LP — Ricky Butts