High School Baseball
Vikings ‘double’ up Ola with defensive effort
Football isn’t the only sport where defense can win — or lose — big games.
Despite managing just five hits, Northgate’s baseball lineup kept pace in the Region 4-AAAAA playoff race in a must-win situation on Thursday, turning three double-plays in a 5-1 victory at home over Ola.
A scoreless game carried into the fourth before the Vikings broke through with two runs in a victory where the team also took advantage of five Mustang errors.
The win capped off a sweep of the 4-AAAAA foe during the regular season while also keeping Northgate a half-game ahead in third place behind Starr’s Mill and Whitewater during a week that began with losses to both region frontrunners on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.
The team now heads into spring break at 10-4 in 4-AAAAA and 11-9 overall. The Vikings will return a week from Monday with another key week of region games that starts with a trip to Union Grove (10-8, 9-4).
Despite being tied with Northgate in the loss column, the Wolverines dropped their first of two games against the Vikings in a 4-3 loss on March 20 in Newnan.
Connor Wilson kept Northgate in Thursday’s game, pitching four scoreless innings and getting some defensive help along the way.
After retiring four straight batters, infielders Buddy Green and Blake Helton turned the first of three double-plays between the duo while erasing Ola’s Andrew Sarsany following a one-out single.
The Mustangs, who managed four hits off Wilson, nearly broke through again in the fourth, putting runners on first and second following a leadoff single by Kaleb Hood and a walk to Joc Case. It also ended on a Northgate double-play, this one started by Helton, allowing the Vikings a chance to break through in the bottom of the inning for a 2-0 lead.
Northgate began a two-run rally with Chase Allen’s leadoff double and it carried on with help from a Mustang error that plated the opening run of the game. Jonathan Hamilton followed with a grounder that scored Wilson, who had been hit by a pitch.
Ola’s No. 9 hitter Brandon Perkins cut the team’s deficit in half with an RBI single in the top of the fourth for Wilson’s only run allowed.
But the Northgate pitcher got it back by squeezing a run home with a bunt in the fifth to push the Vikings ahead 3-1 after loading the bases on a walk, a single and another Ola error. The Mustangs were able to get out of the jam without further damage by cutting down a runner at the plate.
Northgate pushed further ahead with two runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Andrew Burden and Allen, who finished 2-for-3.
Burden reached base on all four of his at-bats.
Vikings 5, Mustangs 1
Ola 000 010 0 — 1 5 5
Northgate 000 212 x — 5 5 0