By: Joe Blystone
METAMORA – Evergreen has been the epitome of a graph from an EKG machine so far this spring, full of dips and pinnacles.
After dropping their first league game in an ugly loss to Liberty Center, the Vikings hit one of those peaks as Layne Vance twirled a five-hitter in a 6-1 win over pre-season NWOAL favorite Bryan.
“Our approaches at the plate were much better today,” Viking mentor Mark Cymbollin said after the win.
“We didn’t take a lot of strikes, especially strike three like we did the other day. The whole year until today we have gone down looking a lot and not putting any pressure on the defense.”
“We have a lot of young guys that this is their first time in varsity baseball. We are starting to get the feel for it, and we have a show up and get to work mentality now and be ready to play every day.”
The Bears had Vance on the ropes in the first with a pair of walks and Noah Huard’s single that loaded the bases with no one down.
Vance then went from not being able to find the plate to a strikeout and pop up before giving up his third free pass of the inning to put Bryan up 1-0.
Little did the Golden Bears know that they wouldn’t dent the scoreboard again as Vance painted a PIcasso-like masterpiece on the mound the rest of the way.
The sophomore righty allowed just four more hits, did not walk another batter, and struck out nine in his seven-inning complete game.
“I was thinking Monday we started slow (giving up 6 first inning runs) with walks and everything else and I was like ‘well here we go again.”
“But Layne really buckled down, got a couple strikeouts and only gave up one with 4-5-6 coming up and we were still in the game.”
“That was huge confidence wise, and it helped our younger kids too.”
The Vikes knotted the game in the bottom of the first when Colton Robertson singled, stole second and rode home on Cory Kanneman’s line drive double to center.
“Tying it up in the bottom of the first was just as big as getting out of the top of the inning allowing just one,” Cymbolin explained.
“Again, we are so young (the Vikings started a freshman and two sophomores) and that for a younger team is a big boost.”
The Vikings took the lead for good against Bryan’s Carter Dominique the next time up.
A walk, Connor Hewson’s single and a throwing error on Bryce Bolger’s grounder gave Evergreen a 2-1 lead.
Evergreen struck again in the fourth as Brady Kanneman doubled down the right field line, then Hunter Vaculik hooked a two-base hit into the left field corner for a 3-1 margin. Vaculik then scored on a pair of wild pitches for a second tally in the inning. The Vikes tacked on single numbers in the fifth and sixth.
Brady Kanneman’s second hit of the day was an RBI single to make it 5-1 and the Vikes added an insurance marker in the sixth when Hewson lined his second hit of the day and scored on a pair of Bryan miscues in the field.
“We got better today as a team and hopefully we will keep getting better every day,” concluded Cymbolin.
BRYAN 100 000 0 – 1 4 4
EVERGREEN 110 211 x – 6 9 3
Records: Bryan 4-4 (1-1 NWOAL), Evergreen 5-3 (1-1 NWOAL)
WINNING PITCHER: Vance (7 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 earned 8 strikeouts, 3 walks)
LOSING PITCHER: C. Dominique (4 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs, 2 earned, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk) Other: Pelz
LEADING HITTERS: (Bryan) Huard – 2 singles; Uran – double; D. Dominique – double; (Evergreen) Robertson – 2 singles, RBI, 2 runs; C. Kanneman – double, RBI; B. Kanneman – double, single, RBI; Vaculik – double, RBI, 2 runs
Joe can be reached at email@example.com