Niles wins first district title since 2016

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, June 5, 2024

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ST. JOSEPH — It may have taken an extra day, but it was well worth the wait for the Niles baseball team as the Vikings on their first Division 2 District championship since 2016 Sunday.

After defeating Berrien Springs 13-1 in six innings on Saturday at St. Joseph High School, the district tournament’s championship game was postponed until Sunday afternoon due to rain.

The Vikings took on the host Bears, which it split with May 18. The Bears won the first game 11-4, while Niles bounced back to take the second contest 7-6.

On Sunday, the Vikings scored a pair of runs in the top-half of the seventh inning to seal a 5-2 victory over St. Joseph and a spot in the Division 2 Regional Semifinals Wednesday against host Holland Christian.

Niles (23-8) is seeking its first regional championship since 2016 when the Vikings reached the Division 2 Quarterfinals before falling to Holland Christian.

In the championship game, played in cloudy and cool conditions, both teams scored a pair of runs in the first inning.

Niles took a 3-2 lead with a run in the third inning.

Three consecutive singles produced the game-winning run for the Vikings. Brenden Olsen led off the inning with a single, which was followed up with hits from Acie Kirtdoll and Caron Rachels.

Rachel’s single scored Olsen to give Niles a 3-2 advantage.

The game remained that way until the seventh inning when a walk to Olsen was followed by a run-scoring double by Rachels one out later. Jax Racht followed that up with a double to make it 5-2 as Rachels scored.

Niles then turned it over to pitcher Brian Gonzalez, who went the distance, allowing one earned run on six hits with nine strikeouts and just one walk.

The Vikings finished with seven hits. Olsen, Kirtdoll and Rachels all had a pair of hits.


Niles 13, Berrien Springs 1

A pair of five-run innings turned a 3-1 lead into a blowout as the Vikings advanced to the title game with its win over the Shamrocks.

Niles had 15 hits in the contest, led by Olsen, who was 4-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.

Alex Cole, Kirtdoll and Brayden Wiemuth all finished with two hits. Kirtdoll, Braylon Schultz and Racht all had doubles.

Racht earned the victory as he worked all seven innings, tossing a no-hitter with six strikeouts.