Vikings slug it out with Grizzlies
An early 11-run explosion from the Viking bats wasn’t enough Thursday, as the high-powered Galena Grizzlies downed South Tahoe 22-13 in Nevada 4A baseball at Todd Fields.
In a first inning that saw Viking starter Toby O’Brien give up six runs on six hits, things weren’t looking good for the Vikings early on.
However, the home team had its bats warmed up as well.
Mike Tillson and Matt Connelly both singled off Galena starter Jon Zuppan to get things going. After a wild pitch moved both into scoring position, O’Brien put the Vikings on the board on a fielder’s choice.
The Vikings made it a 6-2 game when designated hitter John Capitani roped a double into right-center scoring the speedy O’Brien from first.
Chipping away at the lead, but facing two outs, the Vikings didn’t let up.
After Royce Reardon reached first on a throwing error from Grizzlies second baseman Joe Hooft, Viking catcher Brandon Tinlin singled to right. A walk to third baseman Nick Alexander set the table for Viking slugger Jarred Uppendahl, who on a 0-1 count launched a grand slam to left field, giving the Vikings a 7-6 lead.
“I was expecting a fastball so when I saw it, I just jumped on it,” Uppendahl said.
The Vikings continued the barrage, scoring two more runs off the bats of O’Brien and Capitani, increasing the Viking lead to 9-6 and forcing the Grizzlies to dip into their bullpen.
After torching Zuppan, who pitched 2/3 of an inning and allowed 11 runs on eight hits, Viking first baseman Mike Hennessy picked up exactly where they left off. Hennessy smashed a two-run blast on the first pitch he saw from Grizzlies reliever Warren Whitley.
With a comfortable 12-6 lead, the Vikings looked to defend their advantage, but the Galena sluggers were too much.
Hooft, catcher Steve LaRue and center fielder Dustin Hahn all had two home runs apiece in a game that saw nine balls leave the yard.
Whitley found his groove on mound as well, retiring nine Vikings in a row at one point.
“It’s too bad we didn’t hit their pitching innings two through four,” said Viking skipper Doug Russell. “We had a pitcher in there we could do some damage off of, but we weren’t patient enough.”
With an 18-13 lead and the game in their favor, the Grizzlies brought on pitcher Billy Paganetti, who shut the door on the Vikings by striking out five of the last seven batters he faced.
The Vikings will close the season out on Saturday when they face Reed in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. And while they did drop one Thursday, the Vikings aren’t about to quit.
“Were confident we can do good (on Saturday) and end the season on a good note,” Uppendahl said.
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