Youthful Vikings doubled out

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 13, 2007

By Mike Simmons, staff writer

MANLY, Iowa &8212; No one really expected the Northwood-Kensett baseball team to advance far in the District 1A tournament.

Except the Vikings.

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But the fact that this young squad &8212; with just one senior in the lineup &8212; had made it to the third round against West Hancock (11-11) on Thursday evening didn&8217;t soften the harsh reality of getting bumped from the postseason by the Eagles, 3-2.

The Vikings were expecting a slugfest and were counting on having to score at least nine runs to win. What they got instead was a pitcher&8217;s duel where they played well enough to win as both teams combined for just nine hits. Rather than pulling off another surprise, youthful mental mistakes caught up with N-K to prevent elimination.

&8220;Like I told the kids, when you have to put eighth- and ninth-graders in those situations, these are the things that are going to happen,&8221; said Vikings coach Mike Reindl. &8220;That&8217;s no excuse; don&8217;t get me wrong, we should have won that game. The mistakes just caught up with us tonight.&8221;

West Hancock took just one inning to score all the runs it needed to advance. The Eagles rocked Northwood-Kensett starter Jake Weisert for three runs on three hits, including two for extra bases, in the top of the first.

In the bottom half of the inning the Eagles&8217; Andrew Eckhoff retired the first two hitters he faced before the Vikings lone senior, Dan Bestul, ripped a two-out double to right-center field. Mike Bachtle followed Bestul with a line shot off Eckhoff&8217;s glove and dove into first base with a single that put runners at first and third.

The bad news for the Vikings came when Weisert hit an inning-ending grounder to second base that halted the rally.

Leaving two runners stranded wasn&8217;t what worried the Northwood-Kensett bench though &8212; it was the fact that Weisert took two steps toward first on the play and came up limping, unable to put any weight on his right foot. After just one complete inning the Vikings found themselves trailing 3-0 and had already lost their starting pitcher

Jordan Reindl took the hill for N-K to start the second and held the Eagles scoreless for the rest of the game while allowing just two hits.

The outstanding relief performance put the pressure on the Vikings&8217; bats to assemble a late-inning rally. Northwood-Kensett put just one runner on base in the next three innings before Trent Midtgaard and Sam Arnold reached with no outs in the bottom of the fifth. A double-play ball and a groundout put an abrupt stop to the scoring opportunity.

Still down three, the Vikings found some life in the sixth when Christen Barnes singled and was followed by a Bestul walk that set the table for Mike Bachtle, who had already singled in the first. Bachtle didn&8217;t disappoint, stroking a two-run double to right center that pulled N-K to within one. After a sacrifice bunt for the first out, an attempted squeeze play was popped in the air. Once again a Vikings opportunity was slammed shut by an inning-ending double play.

After pulling off some heroics in two previous district wins, the Vikings seemed to have run out of luck when the Eagles completed double plays in the fifth, sixth and seventh inning, bringing an end to Northwood-Kensett&8217;s summer.

This very young Viking team finished the season at 11-15 overall and was 2-1 in district play. Northwood-Kensett will lost only Bestul, who finished 8-1 with two saves in his senior season.

West Hancock 3, Northwood-Kensett 2


300 000 0 &8212;

3 5 1


000 002 0 &8212; 2 4 4

WP &8212; Andrew Eckhoff

LP &8212; Jake Weisert