By Steve Babb Special Correspondent
Pelican opened their season with a split at a frigid Hawley diamond, winning the first game 9-6 before losing the nightcap 14-5 in 5 innings due to darkness.
In the opener, the Vikings took advantage of 5 walks and 3 hit batsmen with 8 runs in the 2nd inning. McHale Korf drove in 2 with a bases loaded double. Austin Stoll and Luke Sjolie added run scoring singles.
Hawley came back with 2 unearned runs in the bottom of the frame against starting pitcher Weston Funk. Funk had a solid 3 innings of work, walking 1 and striking out 3. Luke Sjolie pitched the 4th and 5th innings, getting the win, allowing 1 run while striking out 4 in his first varsity performance on the mound.
The Vikings added their final run in the 4th when Stoll singled, stole 2nd and with aggressive, alert base running scored from there on a ground out. Hawley added a run in the 4th on a couple of walks and a hit but Sjolie got out of trouble by striking out a Nugget with the bases loaded. Justin Verdorn relieved Stoll in the 7th after a lead off walk and walked 2 to load the bases. Brock Sjolie came on in relief and, despite 2 more walks and a passed that resulted in 3 Hawley runs, got a strike out to preserve the Vikings win.
Stoll and Korf led the Vikings attack with 2 hits apiece. Brock Sjolie also added a double.
2nd game: Hawley 14, Pelican 5 in bone-chilling, below freezing contest
Hawley scored in every inning of the 28 degree temperature, 2nd game to win 14-5.
The game was mercifully called after 5 innings due to darkness. The weather had an adverse affect on the game as it became very difficult for the pitchers, evidenced by 12 walks and 4 hit batters between the two teams. The Nuggets opened the scoring with 2 runs in the first and 3 more in the 2nd. 6 more crossed the plate in the 3rd opening up a 11-0 lead. The Vikings entered the scoring column in the bottom of the 3rd. McHale Korf led off with a double. Justin Verdorn and Brock Sjolie walked to load the bases with one out. Payton Blakeway’s sacrifice fly scored Korf. Logan Fahje singled loading the bases once more before Carson McNeal doubled in 2 runs, bringing the score to 11-4. Hawley added one more in the 4th and 2 in the 5th, pushing the score to 14-4 before the Vikings came back with their final run in the bottom of the inning on a walk, Blakeway’s single, a hit batter and a passed ball.
Brock Sjolie started on the mound for Pelican, pitching 2 innings and taking the loss. McNeal started the 3rd and was relieved by Fahje who pitched the final 3 frames. Korf led the Vikings in hitting with 2 more hits, including 3 doubles for the day. McNeal also had 2 hits and 3 RBI.
Positives were the 7 Vikings pitchers on the day threw pretty well, considering the weather and the defense played well overall with Korf making a spectacular diving catch in center field in the 1st game and Funk making an excellent over the shoulder catch at shortstop in the 2nd game.