High School Baseball
Whitewater powers past Northgate in region slugfest
by Doug Gorman
It may take a math professor or a rocket scientist to eventually figure out the Region 4-AAAAA’s baseball playoff scenarios.
Northgate’s plan is simple. Just keep winning games.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, however, region leader Whitewater was just as desperate for a win on Wednesday, using a 12-6 decision at Northgate to remain ahead of Starr’s Mill in a fierce battle for first place in 4-AAAAA.
As for Northgate, it dropped into a three-way battle for third with both Union Grove and McIntosh, which slipped up Wednesday in a 9-8 loss to Mt. Zion-Jonesboro.
The Vikings, who own tiebreakers over both Union Grove and McIntosh, quickly need to rebound today against Ola at home in a game moved ahead one day on the calendar due to potential rain on Friday.
Northgate won the first meeting between teams at Ola 7-2.
Whitewater (15-1, 11-1) used three homers to outslug Northgate on Wednesday despite a pair of home runs from Chase Allen.
“We got ourselves to where were were in pretty good position for the playoffs,” Northgate head coach Greg Hamilton said. “Then we start back through with loss, so here we are again having to fight.”
Wildcat leadoff hitter Jake Wilkinson accounted for two of his team’s three home runs, including one to start the game, while Brandon Bell smashed a grand slam in the third inning to power the Wildcats to the win.
Wilkinson then added his second home run in the fifth.
The Vikings had their chances throughout the game, out-hitting the Wildcats 12-10, but three errors proved costly for the Wildcats.
Northgate also left 10 runners on base.
“We had our opportunities,” Hamilton said. “We never got that one big hit. We also hurt ourselves by extending the inning a couple of times. We gave up too many home runs. We have to keep in in the ball field, and we didn’t to that.”
After Wilkinson hit a 3-2 pitch off Viking starter Blake Whitney over the right-field fence for the 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Northgate rallied for its only lead of the game in the bottom half of the inning on RBIs from Armand Upshaw and Jordan Schmits.
Whitewater took the lead for good with four runs in the third inning thanks to Bell’s grand slam to give the team a 5-1 advantage.
Allen responded with two homers of his own, including a two-run shot in the third scoring Upshaw, who led off the inning with a double, cutting the lead to 5-4.
The Wildcats added three more runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and three more in the seventh to put some distance between the two teams.
Allen led off the seventh inning with a solo homer, but it proved to be the last run of the game for the Vikings and Whitewater pitched out of the seventh -inning jam.
Relief pitcher Jordan Holmes picked up the win for the Wildcats. throwing three innings and striking out a batter.
Whitney took the loss for the Viking despite looking sharp at times. He retired the Wildcats in order in the second and fourth and struck out five.
Allen finished the game with three RBIs and Upshaw added two for the Vikings. Bell’s grand slam accounted for all four of his team-leading RBIs.
Wilkinson and Jabari Richards also drove in two runs apiece for the Wildcats.
Wildcats 12, Vikings 6
WHITEWATER 104 031 3—12 10 0
NORTHGATE 202 001 1—6 12 3
WP — Jordan Holmes
LP — Blake Whitney
HR — Whitewater -Brandon Bell, Jake Wilkinson (2). Northgate Chase Allen (2)