Evergreen came within about three and a half feet of making things very interesting in a 4-1 NWOAL loss to preseason favorite Bryan, then played Jekkyl and Hyde in a Saturday doubleheader split at Hilltop.
The Vikings rode a solid pitching performance by Bryce Hudik and timely two-out scoring in a 7-4 opening game win, but then struggled on the mound, defensively, and at the plate as the Cadets triumphed 11-1 in the nightcap.
Against Bryan, the Vikes took a 1-0 first inning lead against Golden Bear starter Bleus Creek when Alec Truckor drew a walk, Noah Eisel singled him to second and Levi carson’s two-out single to right center.
Bryan rebounded in their half of the first against Teagen Pinkelman when Alex Morr bounced a one-out seeing-eye single up the middle to start a Golden Bear rally.
Luke Nye pounded an RBI-double up the left center field gap and Chris Wittler gave the Bears a 2-1 lead with an RBI-single.
An unearned run in the Bryan second on a walk, error, and Deylen Miley’s run scoring single to right-center gave Bryan a 3-1 lead.
The Bears padded their lead in the fifth when Morr reached on an error and eventually scored when Wittler battled his way through five straight 0-2 strikes from Pinkelman before getting a base hit to right making it 4-1.
Creek kept the Vikings from any serious threat until the seventh.
Pinkelman singled with one down when Nick Etue’s drive hooked less than a foot foul in the left field corner that would have put Vikings on at least second and third.
Creek recovered to get the Viking leadoff hitter on strikes, but walked Truckor for the third time on the day to put two on with two out.
Eisel then followed with a drive identical to Etue’s that also landed just foul before again, Creek came back to get the Evergreen left hander on strikes to end the game.
For the game, the Bryan righty scattered six hits, three of those Eisel singles, and struck out 13 while walking just three for the complete game win.
Pinkelman was effective for Evergreen, holding Bryan to the two first inning earned runs while scattering nine hits.
The Evergreen junior walked one and struck out one in a losing effort.
The Vikings came back early the next day against Hilltop, scoring three in the first.
Etue singled, and after consecutive walks, scored on a wild pitch.
Hudik and fellow freshman Sam Lubinski rapped back-to-back two-out singles to give Evergreen a quick three spot they held until the Hilltop third.
Jacob Champion and Tyler Suboski singled with one down, then a critical error on a dropped throw on a double play ball at second blasted the door wide open for the Cadets.
Cole Haynes and Nic Schieber each followed with RBI singles before Ethan Dunson doubled to bring in the go-ahead score to give Hilltop a 4-3 lead.
Evergreen came right back to knot the score in the fourth when Hudik walked, went to second on a wild pitch, moved up on a ground ball to the right side and scored on Carson’s fly ball.
The Vikes took the lead for good in the fifth when Haynes walked four Evergreen hitters, including three straight with two out to force in the run to regain the lead before Carson’s line drive single to left center scored two more for a 7-4 lead.
Hudik worked through the sixth, allowing nine hits, walking one and striking out four in picking up the victory.
Etue worked a scoreless seventh, allowing a Cadet hit and also getting a strikeout.
However, the Vikings did an about face in the second contest.
The Cadets got to starter David Moore in the first for four runs.
Suboski led off with a ringing double and after a walk and a dropped fly ball in center, Haynes towering fly ball went up the gap to score a pair of runs before yet another error on Schieber’s grounder brought in another.
Hilltop added on three more in the third on a walk, singles from Ryan Brooker and Quinn Smith, and Schieber’s double which ended the day for Moore.
Phoenix VanOstrand ended the scoring in the second but allowed three in the third on an infield hit, a key double error and Haynes’ pop fly single.
Haynes third hit and fourth RBI of the game ended up finishing the contest in the fifth.
Evergreen’s only tally came on Jon Milliken’s bases-loaded roller he beat out for a hit in the third.
Moore took the loss, giving up six hits and five earned runs in an inning and a third.
Evergreen, now 2-7 on the year, plays on Tuesday at perennial Southern Michigan power Whiteford, then hosts Swanton in a non-league contest Wednesday.
Joe Blystone can be reached at email@example.com