Baseball is sometimes such an odd game.
Evergreen went seven innings without a hit against Wayne Trace right-hander Braden Zuber and only had one, a Drew Greene single through 11 innings.
That was because Viking freshman Bryce Hudik was throwing 10 innings of five hit ball to go with 12 strikeouts to keep the Vikings knotted in a scoreless battle.
What finally broke the game open was a six-run 12th that had a single hit which traveled all of about 12 feet, and the player that carried the most impact in the whole scenario was wearing red, white and blue instead of green and gold in what turned into a 6-1 Viking win that put Evergreen in the Division III sectional final against Archbold Thursday at 5 p.m.
“Sometimes good things happen when you keep at it and keep at it and keep at it,” said Viking coach Brian Nagy. “Our guys didn’t lose faith and kept their noses up and kept coming back after each missed opportunity. Eventually we got the job done, although I can’t ever remember getting that many runs in an inning on just one hit.”
Opportunities were few and far between as Hudik and Zuber matched outs on the mound.
Wayne Trace had a chance in the third when Zuber reached on an error and leadoff hitter Austin Fast singled to put Raiders on first and second with no one down.
However, Hudik picked Zuber off second and got a strikeout and ground ball to end the threat.
Evergreen’s best chance the first seven innings came in the seventh when Noah Eisel drew a leadoff walk and moved up on a wild pitch. But, when a Zuber offering bounced away from catcher Korbin Slade, it wasn’t far enough as the Raider backstop gunned down Eisel trying to advance to stifle that rally.
The Raiders again had runners at first and second in the bottom of the seventh with one down but Hudik recorded back-to-back strikeouts to escape trouble.
Greene’s one out single in the eighth and a Raider boot put Vikings at first and second but Zuber got a pop up and ground out to keep the game scoreless.
The Raiders had a golden chance to win the game in their half of the eighth when a walk, and one out singles from Blaine Jerome and Noah Stoller loaded the bases but again Hudik came up big, striking out the next two Raiders to keep the Vikings in the game.
“I definitely have good things to say about the way we pitched today,” said Nagy. “We had a couple lapses defensively but got out of jams with some big strikeouts and a couple big plays defensively when we had to have them, and I cannot say enough about Bryce Hudik going 10 innings of scoreless ball. We do not generally want to have a kid throw that many pitches in one game but I couldn’t bear to take the ball away from him as well as he was pitching.”
Both pitchers exited after 10 innings due to the OHSAA rule on innings pitched in a game and a 3-day period and Evergreen’s Teagen Pinkelman patched Stoller pitch for pitch in a scoreless 11th.
Then came the eventful 12th.
Levi Carson drew a one-out walk and Hudik followed with another that Stoller walked halfway to the plate to contest ball four.
Obviously upset, the Raider pitcher rode a fastball tight that Nick Hudik absorbed to load the bases, and then the Raider righty drilled Sam Lubinski in the hip to force in the Vikings first run.
“Those were two HUGE at-bats,” explained Nagy. “With the struggles we had getting on base it was good to see a couple guys do what it takes to get there. You could almost audibly feel the pressure change over to the other dugout because of those hit batters.”
Fast came in to relieve Stoller and got Nick Etue to ground sharply to Stoller at second.
However, the stocky Raider misplayed what would’ve been a force out at the plate into a pair of runs, leaving Vikings at first and third.
Then came Truckor who with Lubinski running from third put down a perfect bunt that he beat out at first and when Slade’s throw went over the first baseman’s head, the Evergreen shortstop went around second to third and when Stoller’s relay in an attempt to get Truckor at third got away, all three Vikings scored making it 6-0.
“When he (Truckor) put it in play, I thought ‘ok we got one more’, then with what happened after that well you can see what happens when you’re the aggressor.”
The Raiders did mark a run in the 12th on a Fast single, force out, stolen base and Jerome’s third hit of the day but it was way too little.
For the game, Zuber walked five and struck out 13, allowing just one hit. Stoller took the loss after walking two, hitting two and striking out one.
Pinkelman got the win, giving up three hits and striking out one
Evergreen still has NWOAL games at Montpelier tomorrow and at home against Delta Wednesday before the Thursday sectional final at Archbold.
Joe Blystone can be reached at email@example.com