TONTOGANY – The Evergreen Viking baseball team was greatly different from the one that traveled to Otsego and committed 13 errors in a doubleheader loss to open the season.
However, the much improved version from that date couldn’t keep a three-game winning streak going in the Division III sectional tournament Wednesday, falling to the Knights in a return trip to Otsego, 5-4.
Otsego took a 1-0 first inning lead, when after Viking starter Bryce Hudik blew away the first two hitters on strikes, he walked three around a base hit from Lance Sniegowski to force in an early run.
Mason Henricks helped Hudik avert further damage with a leaping stab of Jordan Rizzielli’s line drive that would’ve scored two more, to end the inning.
Evergreen came right back in the top of the second.
Josh Dowling started the rally with a one-out single after Sam Lubinski began the inning with a base hit but was thrown out trying to steal.
Dowling moved to second on a wild pitch, then to third on Drew Greene’s bounce out to the right side, and scored on another wild pitch by starter AJ Mancini to knot the game at 1-1.
Otsego took the lead back in the bottom of the third.
Austin Meier started the inning with a wind blown double to right and Wil Varner walked.
Hudik got Sniegowski to bounce into a force play to create a first-and-third situation, but before the Knights could run any kind of base running gimmick, Hudik got Corey Hollar to pop out.
However, with the same situation and this time Varner on the move, catcher Jack Krispin’s throw on the cut-off play skidded away allowing Meier to score.
Again the Vikings came back in the next half inning to tie.
Greene reached on a one-out single, went to second on a ground out and scored when Meier threw Zach Lumbrezer’s ground ball down the first base line to even the game at 2-2.
Otsego took a lead in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a trio of two-out hits from the top of the order.
David Silva, Meier and Sniegowski each had run scoring singles to end the day for Hudik and give the Knights a 5-2 lead.
Evergreen came back again in the sixth, and again Greene was in the middle of the action.
The senior designated hitter rapped a double down the right field line with two down to start the rally.
Phoenix VanOstrand’s high chopper down the third base line went for an infield hit to move the runner to third, then Greene scored when Lumbrezer’s grounder up the middle was fielded by Silva on a slick play but his backhanded toss to second for the force was dropped by Sniegowski to allow the run to score.
The same pair muffed the next grounder by Henricks the same way to load the bases, but reliever Jeremy Avers got Teagen Pinkelman, who already had two hits and a walk on the day, on strikes to end the inning.
VanOstrand kept the Vikings close, as he gave up just the one hit and a single walk in two and a third innings of work, giving his team a chance in the seventh.
Krispin led off by lofting a soft single to left.
Avers’ pickoff attempt on pinch-runner Jack Etue moved him to second and then a grounder to the right side got him to third where Lubinski’s ground out scored him.
However, Avers got Dowling to bounce to Silva on a controversial close play at first to end the game.
The Vikings have one game left as they host Fayette Tuesday at Simon Field.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com