Northgate powers its way to region victory over Union Grove
by Doug Gorman
If the Northgate Vikings baseball team hopes to stick around for the postseason, every Region 4-AAAAA contest becomes vital.
The team inched a step closer to the state playoffs on Wednesday at home with a 12-3 victory over Union Grove in what head coach Greg Hamilton called a must-win situation.
The win helps the Vikings stay alive for one of the four Region 4-AAAAA playoff spots. Heading into Wednesday’s games, Whitewater, McIntosh, and Starr’s Mill each have three losses in Region 4-AAAAAA action.
Northgate improved its record 10-4 in region play and 13-4 overall.
“We had to win today,” Northgate said Hamilton. “We are all really bunched together. “
It also sets up a crucial game on Saturday when Northgate travels to Ola. The Mustangs (8-4) also have four losses in region play.
The Vikings pounded out 12 hits en route to the win over the Wolverines.
Three Northgate pitchers went to the mound en route to the victory. Robert Massenburg pitched into the fifth inning and picked up the win with a seven-strikeout effort.
The Vikings also picked up two solid innings of work from Matt Farmakis. After entering with a Union Grove runner on first in the fifth, he didn’t allow a Wolverine batter to reach in his two innings of relief. Farmakis got one batter to strikeout in the fifth and then needed just four pitches to retire the Union Grove side in the sixth.
Sophomore Chad Green threw the last inning, striking out one batter and allowing a hit before closing out the game.
Northgate secured the victory when James Poropatic made a diving catch in center field to end the contest.
The Vikings put the exclamation point on Wednesday’s victory with a power display in the bottom of the sixth.
Already leading 8-3, Tyler Dahlberg and Jordan Schmits each hit a two-run homer in the inning to give the Vikings some insurance.
“We had some big hits tonight, and that really helped,” Hamilton said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
The Vikings display of power came right after three Union Grove assistant coaches were thrown out of the game.
Northgate took early control of the contest after Massenburg helped retire the side in order in the top of the first with two strikeouts.
The Vikings then scored three times in the bottom of the first. Armond Upshaw drove in a run with a base hit and Schmits picked up two RBIs with a single later in the inning.
Union Grove tied the game with a single run in the second and two more in the third.
Northgate grabbed the momentum right back in the bottom of the third inning when Jeffery Ginn delivered the game-winner. Ginn stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, and nearly hit the ball out of the park for grand slam. His double off the center field fence accounted for three runs.
“That was huge,” Hamilton said. “It totally changed the momentum of the game.”
Northgate added two more runs in the fifth inning after Dahlberg singled and Allen doubled. Both runners scored when Carter Sheheane single them home.
Offensively, Dahlberg finished with three hits and scored four runs. Allen added two hits and scored four times. Poropatic and Schmits also scored twice.
Casey Selfe was the offensive leader for Union Grove with two hits and a run scored.
Northgate now gears up for its showdown with Ola.
“It is going to be a very crucial game,” Hamilton said. “We have to be ready to play.”
The Vikings could enter the contest short-handed with at least two players expected to miss the game because of college boards.
Northgate also suffered a setback recently when it lost senior catch Spencer Perry to a broken bone in his foot. The senior catcher is expected to be out three to four weeks.
“Hopefully, we make the playoffs, and we are able to get him back,” Hamilton said.