Usually nothing good comes for free.
However, Evergreen battled through issuing 10 free passes, used a four-run fourth to break a 3-3 tie, then held off visiting Archbold to take a 7-5 win on the opening night of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League baseball season Monday.
“It’s big,” Viking first year coach Mark Cymbolin said of the victory over one of the preseason league favorites. “I told these guys no one is going to hand you anything, you’ve got to go earn it.
“As young as we are (the Vikings have nary a senior on the roster), learning how to win is hard in this league. You have to come focused and ready to play every day. We preach focus and effort and I hope we are learning how to get it now. You can’t just show up, you have to earn it and I think our guys did a pretty good job battling through some tough spots and earned it today.”
Evergreen got to Archbold starter Zane Behnfeldt in the second.
RJ Shunck bounced a single through the left side, then Connor Hewson drew a one-out walk.
Isaac Overfield laced a single to center to load the bases and a wild pitch gave Evergreen a 1-0 lead.
After another base on balls to Payton Boucher, Behnfeldt hit Brock Hudik with a pitch to force in another run and bring Brandon Taylor to the mound for Archbold.
Taylor walked Zach Laver to force in a third run before getting Ashton Sayers to bounce into a 1-2-3 double play.
Archbold came right back in the top of the third.
After Shunck struck out five of the first six Archbold outs, he went out of the strike zone, walking a trio of hitters, and after a one-out dropped foul pop up, Caleb Hogrefe delivered the first Archbold run with a sacrifice fly.
A passed ball and a Devon Morris single tied the game.
Evergreen rebounded in the fourth to take the lead for good.
A walk and Hudik’s bunt single brought DJ Newman to the mound and Laver greeted him with a run-scoring single to put the Vikings up 4-3.
One out later, Landen Vance hammered a double into the left field corner to mark two more and Shunck followed with his third hit of the game to push the Evergreen lead to 7-3.
“It’s going to be an all year process for us hitting wise,” said Cymbolin. “Our approaches are starting to get better. We are still taking too many called third strikes with guys in scoring position (the Vikings left four runners in scoring position with less than two outs on called strike threes). However overall I think we are getting better. We aren’t there yet obviously but we are getting better.”
Two more walks from Shunck and another from Nick Smithmyer — who came on in relief — loaded the bases for Archbold in the fifth with no one down.
Smithmyer got Newman to hit into a run-scoring force play, but Vance’s relay to first in an attempt for a double play was wide and a second Archbold run scored to make it 7-5.
Archbold mounted another threat in the sixth with two down when Jayden Seiler and Taylor singled, and Jaybe Burkle beat out an infield hit to load the bases off Smithmyer.
That brought Vance to the mound and the junior right-hander got an infield pop up to end the inning, then worked a scoreless seventh that included two strikeouts for the save.
“We talk about throwing strikes and playing defense, and if we do that we can win games,” Cymbolin stated. “We got strikes when we needed them late and I think everyone sees how important it is.”
Shunck picked up the win, allowing just one hit, but walked seven and struck out seven.
Evergreen is now 5-4 on the season and hosts Patrick Henry in an NWOAL contest Thursday afternoon. Archbold (7-2, 0-1 NWOAL) is at rival Wauseon Thursday before hosting Perrysburg on Saturday.