GENOA – No Bryce Hudik wasn’t the next coming of Roger Clemens or Justin Verlander.
But the lanky Evergreen right-hander was pretty darn good as he threw a three-hitter to give the Vikes a 3-1 win over Genoa in opening round of the Division III sectional baseball tournament Wednesday.
“What a great job he did today,” said Viking coach Brian Nagy. “He had trouble getting his fastball over for a strike but he was able to throw a bunch of knuckleballs and changeups for strikes. He got their hitters out on their front foot and made them uncomfortable the whole game.”
Evergreen took the lead in the top of the first.
Mason Henricks singled to left to open the game and took second on a wild pitch.
RJ Shunck’s one-out single moved Henricks to third and then when Jack Krispin bounced to third, Tommy Giles’ throw to the plate was wild allowing the first run of the game.
Hudik walked a pair in the second with one out, but got out of trouble on a strikeout and a fly ball.
The Comets threatened again in the fourth when a walk and Genoa’s first hit of the game, a Cole Millhime single, put runners at first and second with one down.
However, Hudik induced Seth Witt to bounce into an easy 4-6-3 double play to end the rally.
Evergreen picked up two huge insurance runs in the sixth.
Henricks led off with a walk and traveled to third on Hudik’s hit-and-run line drive single to right center.
With one out, Krispin muscled one off the end of the bat for a looping base hit to center to bring home the Vikings’ second run.
“We preach that ‘the ball knows’,” Nagy said of Krispin’s hit. “Jack has hit the ball on the screws five times in the last two games and hadn’t had much to show for it, so karma kind of owed him one. That hard-nosed mentality of adding on late in the game against a good team made all the difference in the world.”
Another run came home when in the first-and-third steal situation, Comet catcher Rylan Stoner tried to pick Hudik off third and threw wild into left field.
Genoa answered back with a run in their half and actually threatened to get much more.
After an error and a wild pitch, Millhime’s second single plated the Comets’ only run.
Hudik then walked the next two hitters but got Reid Stoner on a nasty curveball with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The Evergreen senior then skated through the seventh on just eight pitches.
“I’m not sure Bryce threw more than one fastball that entire inning,” Nagy explained. “Coach (Bill) Cymbolin did a great job mixing pitches, and Bryce did a great job executing.”
For the game Hudik struck out six and walked five, throwing 100 pitches even on the day.
Vikes drop decision to Fairview in sectional final
In the sectional final Saturday, the Vikings received a stellar pitching performance from the combo of Bryce Eisel and Collin Loeffler, but could not overcome five errors on Fairview’s soggy field, and fell 6-3.
Again Evergreen took an early lead on third-inning singles from Landon Vance, Adam Baumgartner, Bryce Hudik and RJ Shunck to take a 2-0 lead.
Hunter Bostater’s RBI single got one back in the bottom of the inning for the Apaches, then Fairview took the lead in the fourth thanks to a lot of help from the Vikes.
An error and singles from Chayse Singer and Kennan Jackson loaded the bases with no one out.
Eisel got Cade Polter to pop out to short right and then induced Caleb Frank to hit a double play ball to Vance at short.
The Vikes got the first out at second but the relay to first was mishandled, allowing two runs to score to give Fairview a 3-2 lead.
Two more Evergreen errors in the fifth led to three more unearned runs making it 6-2.
Mason Henricks’ run-scoring single in the sixth cut into the Fairview lead but Evergreen could not get closer.
Hudik led the Vikings’ 10-hit attack with two singles and a double. Eisel and Loeffler allowed just seven hits.
Evergreen finishes the season with a 10-13 record.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org