Northern Vance entered Thursday’s Big 8 Conference baseball game on a tear, but Cardinal Gibbons stopped the Vikings’ seven-game win streak with a 6-0 victory thanks in part to to three home runs.
That hitting power has helped Gibbons’ staying power atop the competitive league. The Crusaders are even with Orange, who they split the season series with.
“Each week, any of these (Big 8) teams are good enough to beat us,” Gibbons coach Jim Liebler said.
Turning point: Northern Vance (8-3, 2-3) loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth with two two-out walks and one single. But Gibbons pitcher Brian Nelson struck out Vikings pitcher * to preserve the shutout. The six batters were the most Northern Vance had brought to the plate in any inning against the Crusaders (12-2, 6-1).
Best quote: “I’ve got a good group of talented kids who love to play,” Northern Vance coach Benji Nelson said. “They hate that the winning streak came to an end, but I told them ‘Hey, that’s done and over with, let’s start a new one.’”
Three who mattered
Stephen Scott, Cardinal Gibbons: The Vanderbilt-bound senior left fielder’s bat woke up with a two-run homer in the first inning, a single in the third and a solo shot in the fifth. He narrowly missed a third homer in the seventh as his blast to right field went foul.
Brian Nelson, Cardinal Gibbons: Nelson, a senior, had Gibbons’ other home run on a solo shot in the first inning. He also pitched 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball and has given up just one run in Big 8 play.
“He was actually struggling today,” Liebler said. “But when you’re a pitcher, you don’t get graded on when you have your best stuff, you get graded on days like today.”
Kale Boone Northern Vance: Boone went the complete game on the mound for the Vikings. He scattered 12 hits and worked his way out of jams. The Vikings ended the top of the second and fourth inning on 4-6-3 double plays – both coming against Gibbons’ leadoff batter, catcher Gray Betts, a freshman.
On the first double play, second baseman Uriah Ford got it to shortstop Payne Watson with a backhanded flip with his glove. The next time, Watson barehanded the toss.
By the numbers
3: After leading the Triangle in homers over the previous two seasons, Scott had just one entering Thursday’s game. Now he’s up to three.
“I started a little bit slow, but my teammates have been behind me all the way and encouraging me,” Scott said.
Also, only three Gibbons players had RBIs in the game. Scott accounted for three, Nelson had two after an RBI double in the top of the seventh and third baseman Logan Washle had an RBI single in the seventh.
0: Northern Vance was held without any extra-base hits.
5: Gibbons and Northern Vance each left five runners in scoring position. The Vikings ended the inning with someone at third base on four different occasions.
“We just couldn’t get a key hit when we needed to,” Benji Nelson said. “To me, that was the difference here.”
6: Northern Vance left fielder Eric Lemmond had a busy day recording six outs. In the sixth, he recorded all three of Gibbons’ outs.