Vikes Suffer First League Loss to Overhills
Union Pines committed five costly errors Thursday evening in Spring Lake on its way to losing a league baseball game by a 4-2 margin to the Overhills Jaguars.
The defeat was the first for the Vikings (9-4) this season in the 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference as the squad’s league record moved to 6-1, leaving them a half-game in front of Gray’s Creek (5-1, 11-2 CFVC) for the top spot.
“Walks and errors killed us tonight,” said Vike head coach Chad Hill after the tilt. “Their leadoff hitter reached on an error and then the two-hole hitter drew a walk. Both of those guys scored as we made another error in the inning so that was a poor start by us.
“Overhills outplayed us tonight. We definitely did not look like a first-place team in the conference and they looked more hungry then we did. So you hate to say it but the better team won tonight.”
Senior Nic Collins pitched five and 2/3 innings, allowing two hits, four walks and striking out four batters. Despite not allowing an earned run the Vike captain was saddled with the loss in the contest.
Union Pines opened the game by taking a 1-0 lead in the top half of the first frame on a two-out rally capped off by an RBI single from Dylan Kelly.
However, the visiting Vikes then allowed a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore second baseman Emmitt Carden made two errors in the inning, including a muff with two outs that allowed the go-ahead tally to cross the plate.
Overhills starting pitcher Todd Matthews used a sinker and changeup to keep the Vikings off balance at the plate. From the second through fourth frames the 5-foot-6, 150-pound junior hurler sat Union Pines down in order.
With two away in the top of the fifth, Matthews was one out away from retiring 12 straight batters but Union Pines junior Jeff Thompson ripped a single to right to spark a two-out game-tying rally. After the hit Thompson promptly stole first and then swiped second base before scoring on an RBI by Justin Allred to tie the tilt at 2-all.
Kelly led off the top of the sixth for Union Pines with a single up the middle for his second hit of the game. However from there Matthews mowed down the next three batters he faced as Union Pines continued to collectively over swing and failed to make consistent solid contact at the plate.
Overall at the plate the Vikes grounded out to the pitcher four times, sent three slow rollers to second base for force outs, popped-up for outs four times and struck out six times, all while drawing only three free passes.
In the bottom half of the sixth Union Pines was one out away from preserving its lead when an error on a ball hit down the line in right field allowed the game-winning run to score for the Jags.
Just as Vikings’ leadoff hitter Mason Collins came up to bat in the top of the final frame, the rain shower that began in the bottom of the fifth turned into a thunderstorm accompanied by a downpour. The game was called after about 25 minutes of constant rain, giving Overhills the six-inning win.
After the game was called, Viking skipper Hill spoke about the spot his team is now in with regards to the CFVC race for first place.
“For any team a baseball season needs to be a straight line (of progression),” Hill said, “and we have been on a little bit of a roller coaster ride.
“We were lucky enough to win a few big games during that roller coaster, but it did not happen tonight and I am hoping this will serve as a serious wake-up call for our team to realize it is time to refocus, regroup and get ready for our stretch run to end the season.
“The good news is that we don’t have to hope anybody else loses for us to achieve our goal of winning the conference title. We have everything in our hands and if we handle all our business on our end and not worry about anybody else then things will still shake out the way they are supposed to. That’s the best part is we hold our destiny in our hands.”
The Vikings do not return to action until Thursday at 7 p.m when they will open play in the first round of the three-day, three-game Chatlee Easter Baseball Invitational at 7 p.m. in Cameron. Union Pines will host the first two rounds of the Moore County half of the eight-team bracket, which includes Pinecrest.
Southern Lee will host the other half of the bracket for the opening two days, while also hosting the championship as well as the seventh-, fifth- and third-place tilts on a baseball-filled Saturday in Sanford.
R H E
Union Pines 1 0 0 0 1 0 — 2 6 5
Overhills 2 0 0 0 0 2 — 4 2 0
N. Collins and T. Davis (5); To. Matthews WP – Matthews LP – Collins; Leading hitters – (UP) Kelly 2-3, RBI, Allred 2-3, RBI, Thompson 1-3, 2 SB, R, (O) C. Rice 0-2, 2BB RBI, Ty. Matthews 0-2, SAC, RBI, S. Ruppert 1-3, R.
More like this story