High School Baseball
Vikings stay in control, beat Chiefs in walk-off
by Doug Gorman
Northgate took another step toward punching its ticket to the Class AAAAA baseball playoffs on Wednesday with a dramatic 5-4 victory over visiting region 4-AAAAA foe McIntosh in a game decided in eight innings.
The Vikings are sitting alone in third place in the region standings after beating McIntosh for the second time this season.
Northgate is 11-4, a game ahead of Union Grove (9-5) heading into today's trip to Henry County to face the Wolverines.
'We can't rest,' said Northgate head coach Greg Hamilton. 'Union Grove is very good and they are going to be well rested. We still have some big baseball games left to play.'
Against rival McIntosh, the Vikings fell behind 4-1 before rallying with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game.
Northgate had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when senior outfielder James Poropatic led off the inning with a double off the center-field fence.
The ball just missed finding its way out of the park for a game-winning homer run. Members of the Vikings dugout stormed out to home plate thinking the game was over before realizing Poropatic had to settle for the double.
That was the only fireworks Northgate generated in the inning as the Vikings loaded the bases, but couldn't bring across the winning run after a squeeze play failed. McIntosh pitched out of the inning with a strikeout and fly ball that went for an out.
One inning later, Northgate's belated celebration kicked into overdrive as it loaded the bases again and Poropatic drove in the winning run on a sacrifice fly with one out.
'We started off slow, but we were able to putting some hits together, and we just got back in the game,' Poropatic said. 'This was a big win for us.'
Despite a slow-starting offense that had just one hit through the first four innings, the Vikings out hit the Chiefs 9-4.
Hamilton won't let the Vikings get too excited.
'As good and fun as this was today, none of this matters, because we have another huge game against Union Grove,' Hamilton said.
Three Northgate pitchers combined to strikeout eight McIntosh batters with Chad Green getting the win after throwing the final two innings.
Green struck out the first two batters he faced in the seventh and also struck out a batter in the eighth.
Starter Blake Whitney finished with four strikeouts after pitching into the fifth and middle reliever Jordan Schmits didn't allow a hit and struck out one batter in two innings of work.
Northgate's bats finally began to heat up after they sent nine men, loaded the bases and scored three times in the sixth.
Armand Upshaw's RBI double and Schmidts RBI single started the rally and Buddy Green was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to tie the game.
Poropatic and Jonathan Hamilton had two hits each to pace the Northgate offense. Upshaw led the way with two RBIs.
The Vikings took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of first without the benefit of a hitting when Poropatic, who reached base three times, was hit by a pitch.
After stealing second, he went to third on ground out off the bat of Andrew Burden and then came home when Upshaw hit a ball deep in the hole that was fielded by the McIntosh second baseman for the second out the innings.
McIntosh tied the game in the top of the second on Charlie Goedtke RBI double. The Chiefs took a 3-1 lead in the top of the third when Tyler Mowery and Mike Dolak reached and scored on unearned runs.
Goedtke drove in his second run of the game when he walked with the bases loaded in the fifth, bringing home Andrew Johnson for McIntosh's final run. The victory is a confidence booster for the Vikings. 'This is fun,' Poropatic said 'We just have to keep it up. It won't be hard to stay focused. We have put a lot of hard work. We know it is going to be tough every day in this region.
VIKINGS 5, CHIEFS 4
MCINTOSH 012 010 00-441
NORTHGATE 100 030 01-592
WP - Chad Green LP - Cody Maier