Rangers fall short to the Vikings in semis

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Forest Park's Garret Berg hugs his teammate after loosing Thursday's class 2A sectional game in Rockport. North Posey defeated Forest Park 7-5.

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

ROCKPORT — The Forest Park baseball team lost to the North Posey Vikings 7-5 in the sectional semifinal game Thursday night.

Rangers (11-14, 3-5) coach Jarred Howard knew the game against the Vikings (21-7, 7-1) would likely be a tooth-and-nail kind of struggle, where the difference could be one or two runs just as their first game against them on May 3, when the Rangers lost 4-3.

But despite the defeat, he thought the way the boys played Thursday night was indicative of how they performed all season: They gave themselves a chance to win, and stayed in it until the end.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult game for us, but we also felt good about where we were at,” he said. “Our guys have competed all year long, if you watch during the year, you know we’re not going to give up. We came down here with an opportunity to win, that’s all you can ask for. I’m real proud of our guys for that.”

The start of the game was certainly one of the strangest first innings either team had seen all spring. The top of the inning went off routinely enough, as the Rangers quickly swept through their first three outs to take their turn at the plate. It looked as if both team would trade short stands in the batters box, as The Vikings wasted no time clearing the first two Ranger bats.

However Gavin Knust was hit by a pitch during his turn at the plate. As was Elliot Rothgerber and Zachary Wahl. Then with the bases loaded, it started to rain. It first came in drips, but soon fell heavily enough that the umpires called a stop to the action to wait it out. But as play resumed about 10 minutes later, Gage Hasenour was plunked and the Rangers walked in their first run of the evening. The same action repeated itself during the subsequent at-bats for Hunter Helming and Garret Jochem. By the time Nathan Jarboe was fanned for the third out, the Rangers went into the second inning with a 3-0 lead and no base hits.

But the Vikings were quick to turn the tables in the second. Reid Smith led off with a double, then scored on a sacrifice fly from Logan Wunderlich. Next was Dalton Cox with an RBI double that scored Jarrett Motz, who got on base after getting beaned. Camden Bender tied the game at 3 when he hit the third double of the inning to score Cox. The Vikings finally jumped ahead when a fourth double from Shane Harris drove in Cox for the 4-3 lead.

Forest Park's Drew Howard, left, Gavin Knust, Hunter Helming and Henry Hagedorn talk before Thursday's class 2A sectional game in Rockport. North Posey defeated Forest Park 7-5.

Both teams left the scores unchanged in the third, but the Rangers got equal with the Vikings in the fourth. With two outs Wahl was able to come away with a double to bring in Garrett Berg. The stalemate continued into the sixth inning when both teams traded runs. The Vikings scored on a sacrifice fly for Harris that sent in Cox, and Hemling drew a walk with the bases loaded to score Rothgerber to make it 5-5 going into the seventh.

Gaige Kihn led off the top of the inning with a single, and advanced to second basewhen Motz hit into a force-out play at first base. Owen Spears then hit a single, and the Rangers’ infield tried to go for a play at third base. But the throw from first to third was off the mark, which opened a window for Kihn to run in for the Vikings’ sixth run. Later in the inning, Kyle Lavanchy scored a single that took a late hop past the shortstop, and drove in pinch runner Harold Bender. The Rangers weren’t able to turn in any last-minute runs in the bottom of the seventh, as a Drew Howard pop fly to left field and a double play at first and second marked the end of the game.

Jace Bieker pitched the first two innings for five hits, four runs and two walks. Hasenour finished the game with six hits for three runs, four walks and three strikeouts. Wahl went 2 for 2 with an RBI and two walks. Helming had two RBIs, and Berg finished with two hits.

Harris had a strikeout and three walks, as he pitched two-thirds of the first innings. Lavanchy allowed six hits for four runs, six walks and three strikeouts in five innings. Spears and Hunter Alkire cleaned up with three walks and one run. Lavanchy went 4 for 4 with a run driven in. Harris went 1 for 5 with two RBIs.

“I think we did pretty good,” Hasenour said. “We made plays we were supposed to, there was a couple of times runners were on base where we could have scored a couple of runs. But we didn’t get it done.”

Howard praised the boys for the toughness and fortitude they displayed all year long through the different circumstances they faced. The team was young this year, but Howard loved how they came in ready to work everyday of the season, and he believes the future is bright for Ranger baseball in the coming seasons.

“I’m proud of our guys because they were resilient all year long. They had great attitudes, and they came in and worked hard,” he said. “We started five or six freshmen this year, we played a lot of sophomores. We had a bunch of young guys, and we were mixing in. We’re proud of our guys for where we’re at, and I’m excited about what we have coming.”

 




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