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Vikings edged at Parkview Field

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TOP, HOME RUN: Mason Anderson celebrates while rounding the bases after hitting a game-tying home run.
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LEFT, RBI: Keegan Bartrom hits an RBI double to get Huntington North on the board.
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PITCH: Trey Williams winds up for a pitch during Huntington North’s game at Parkview Field.
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RIGHT, PITCH: Brett Kaylor pitched three innings in the start on the mound for the Vikings.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Huntington North baseball team enjoyed a special night of baseball on Wednesday, competing against East Noble as part of the Parkview Sports Medicine High School Baseball Series hosted at Parkview Field, the home of the Ft. Wayne TinCaps, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

Despite the Vikings falling 5–3 to the Knights in the Northeast 8 Conference (NE8) matchup, which dropped Huntington North’s season record to 8–10 and NE8 record to 2–2, the night served as a memorable experience for the Vikings.

The contest was part of the 10-game series, being held for the sixth time to help promote local high school baseball.

Senior pitcher Brett Kaylor got the start on the mound for Huntington North, but Kaylor and the Vikings were rudely welcomed, as East Noble opened the game with three hits in a row, claiming a 1–0 lead in the process.

After a double play by the Huntington North defense, the Knights doubled their lead with an RBI double for a 2–0 advantage.

The Vikings answered in the bottom of the first, as senior shortstop Zach Daugherty singled before getting into scoring position on a stolen base in the next at-bat. Daugherty again swiped another base to advance to third during senior second baseman Keegan Bartrom’s at-bat. Bartrom then sent a double to left-center field to bring in Daugherty and cut the East Noble lead in half at 2–1.

The Knights had chances to blow the game open in the second and third innings, but the Huntington North defense managed to escape the threats with inning-ending double plays on both occasions to keep the score at 2–1 after three frames.

East Noble tacked onto their lead in the top of the fifth with an RBI single after the lead-off batter doubled and then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt in the ensuing at-bat. The run gave the Knights a 3–1 advantage.

The Vikings again answered back in the bottom of the inning when sophomore left fielder Brooks Nicely scored freshman pinch runner Garrett Johnson on an RBI groundout to narrow the gap to 3–2.

Following a relatively quiet top of the sixth, senior center fielder Mason Anderson generated the highlight of the night to lead off the bottom of the frame, crushing a 2–0 pitch over the wall in left for a solo home run to tie up the game at 3–3.

“I knew we needed to have something happen in the (sixth) inning and we needed to get the energy up,” Anderson said. “I just saw it and connected with it. I didn’t know it was over until after I rounded second. I was just trying to connect with the ball and get something going for the team. I was fired up. I was completely fired up. … (To hit a home run at Parkview Field) meant a lot. (It is) probably better than any other field other than maybe the home field at our place. It means a lot to play out here and it’s a great opportunity for us. So, to be able to do that here at a place like this, it was a big deal for me. It meant a lot.”

Huntington North had a chance to take the lead later in the inning, but could not take advantage of the opportunity, sending the game to the seventh tied at 3–3.

East Noble capitalized early in the frame, scoring the go-ahead run on an RBI double to take a 4–3 lead. The Knights doubled their advantage later in the inning with a bases-loaded walk, pushing the score to 5–3 in favor of East Noble, which would be the score heading to the bottom of the seventh.

After a pair of quick outs, the Vikings began their rally, as Kaylor and Nicely knocked back-to-back singles to bring the winning run to the plate. However, the comeback was not meant to be, as the 5–3 decision for the Knights was wrapped up on a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat.

“I do think for the first several innings, we were kind of like a deer in the headlights kind of taking it all in,” Hammel said. “We lost a little bit of our aggressiveness at the plate and we played from behind. It’s tough in high school baseball to play from behind. Our goal is always to play from in front and (then) we’re pretty good. We knew tonight was going to be a game where if we got base runners, we felt like we were going to be able to do some things on the base paths against them. We just didn’t get those base runners early and that put us in a tough spot.”

Kaylor tossed three innings in the start on the mound for Huntington North, allowing six hits and two earned runs while striking out a trio of East Noble batters.

Bartrom took over on the mound in the fourth inning and gave up four hits and one earned run in two innings of work.

Senior pitcher Trey Williams came on in relief for Bartrom in the sixth inning after starting the game at first base and allowed two hits and two earned runs while striking out two Knights.

Hammel noted one big difference about playing in an atmosphere such as Parkview Field is the size of the venue creates larger distances of separation between teammates, especially in the dugout, making communication more difficult.

The Vikings will return to the field on Friday for a NE8 matchup against Norwell. Originally scheduled for Thursday but postponed due to weather, the contest is slated for a 5:30 p.m. first pitch.