Two weeks ago Evergreen walked batters, kicked the ball around and were victimized by timely Swanton hitting in a 10-0 loss.
What a difference 14 days can make.
On the first night of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League baseball campaign Monday, it was Evergreen who got the big hits, took advantage of four Swanton errors, and got an effective pitching performance out of Bryce Hudik in a 10-4 upset of one of the pre-season league favorites.
The Bulldogs were previously unbeaten while the Vikings entered the game 2-5.
“First of all it was Bryce Hudik on the mound today,” said Evergreen coach Brian Nagy. “He’s been phenomenal for us. He pitched a fantastic game against Toledo Whitmer a week ago and today he was good. He got out of a bases loaded jam in the first and from there our kids just have a ton of confidence when he is out there.
“They feel like if (they) can just score a couple of runs or so then Bryce can beat anybody.
“This game was very important considering Swanton is one of the league favorites. Our league with only playing a single round it literally comes down to a one game shootout.”
Swanton coach Tim McCarthy echoed those sentiments regarding the Vikings’ starter.
“You had a four year starter on the mound for them in Hudik and he did a nice job.”
Hudik got out of a huge first inning jam after Hunter Mix led off with a base hit and the Viking righty walked a pair of Bulldogs with two out, by getting Billy Nowakowski on strikes to end the threat.
After Roman Epley got the Vikes 1-2-3 in the first, Evergreen got to the Swanton starter in the second in a big way.
Hudik opened with a single to left and Sam Lubinski drew a walk.
RJ Shunck followed with a base hit to load the bases.
Carter Swank’s circus catch of Bryce Eisel’s drive to left almost got the Bulldogs out of the inning with just a 1-0 deficit but a walk reloaded the bases and Adam Baumgartner ripped a double down the right field line to score two more and make it 3-0.
“We have been really missing that big hit with two outs or with runners in scoring position,” said Nagy. “Tonight we got the ball put in play and good things happen when you are able to do that.”
Mason Henricks’ single and two Swanton miscues plated two more runs to boost the Viking lead to 5-0.
Three straight doubles from Derek Floyd, Nowakowski and Austin Luce got Swanton within 5-2 in the top of the third, but the Vikings retaliated in their half on freshman Landon Vance’s run-scoring hit and a third Swanton boot.
Evergreen basically put the game away in the bottom of the fourth on a walk, a base hit by Hudik, a sacrifice and an error on Zach Lumbrezer’s ground ball that allowed two runs to score.
“There’s that phrase that good teams answer when someone scores and catches up a little bit and then you can keep your cushion,” stated Nagy. “Our kids today didn’t stare at the scoreboard, they continued to have good at-bats and put the ball in play, they hit the ball sharp several times today which was a great sign.”
Hudik went the first 5 2/3 for the win giving up seven hits, walking six and striking out six.
Shunck got the last four outs without giving up a run for the save.
“Today we caught the ball better than the first time we played,” explained Nagy. “We put the ball in play much better and it was a total team effort.”
Epley gave up seven hits and walked two while striking out three in three innings as he took the loss.
“Our mentality wasn’t what it should be,” McCarthy expressed. “It’s easy for kids to think what happened last time instead of going out and playing to our capability. Definitely we weren’t ready and they took advantage of that.”
Evergreen plays at Delta Thursday, then at Hilltop Friday and Edgerton in a doubleheader Saturday.
Swanton plays Archbold in a huge NWOAL game Thursday.
“This makes the Archbold game huge,” McCarthy stated. “One of our goals was to win the league and this makes Thursday a must win if we want to do that.”
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org