Vikings sweep St. Joseph

Published 7:48 am Thursday, April 18, 2019

NILES — A slow start did not deter the Niles baseball team as it opened up with SMAC West Division schedule against visiting St. Joseph Tuesday.

The Vikings were 0-4 on the season, but did not look like a winless team in sweeping the Bears 4-2 and 5-3.

“I was very happy with the performance of the entire team today,” said Niles coach Mike Vota. “We executed well in numerous situations both offensively and defensively. Pitching was solid in both games as we were able to attack the hitting zone and pitch consistently ahead in counts. I liked our compete level for the duration of the doubleheader. 

Kade Wagley had a big day with multiple hits in big situations along with closing out the second game on the mound.”

A three-run fifth inning proved to be the difference in the opening game.

Chase Lotsbaich got the inning going with a single and one out later, a St. Joseph error allowed him to reach third base for Cole Simpson, who lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 2-0 Niles.

Cade Vota was hit by a pitch before E Alkire reached on the second Bears’ error of the inning allowed courtesy runner Tyson Custard to score.

Jadon Hainey plated the final run of the inning with a single to center.

The Vikings got a gutsy pitching performance from Simpson, who went the distance, allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts.

Niles had just four hits as well, led by Hainey, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI.

The Vikings used another big fifth inning to complete the sweep.

Niles scored four times to erase St. Joseph’s 2-1 lead.

With one out, Trey Knight was hit by a pitch. After stealing second, Knight scored on a single by Wagley.

Back-to-back hits by pitches loaded the bases with Vikings.

A sacrifice fly by Alkire gave Niles the lead for good at 3-2.

Vota and Simpson, who were both hit by the pitches, combined on a double steal to get the Vikings a 4-2 lead as Simpson was safe at the plate.

Hainey then singled home Vota with Niles’ final run of the game.

St. Joseph scored a run in the fifth, but could not muster any more offense.

Vota started and picked up the win as he worked five innings, allowing two runs on four hits with five strikeouts.

Wagley came on in the sixth and earned the save.

The Vikings made the most of their five hits. Hainey, Kyle Beckwith and Wagley all singled and drove in a run.

“We played a better defensive game today than we have been playing,” Vota said. “Also, our batters put the ball in play with much greater frequency. We still have a lot of work to do as we move forward through the season as we are a young team looking to improve each day and it was good for some of the guys to get a little confidence moving forward.”