March 18, 2022 — When the Viking baseball team traveled to Sutherlin on March 15 their fans did not know what to expect. Though the team only won one game in the COVID shortened 2021 season there appeared to be great potential for improvement as the roster features strong leadership from six seniors who have been playing together since their days in Little League at Miller Park.
That potential showed right from the start as Siuslaw put 3 runs on the board in the first inning of game one and never looked back and swept a doubleheader from the Sutherlin Bulldogs 7-1 and 7-5.
Game 1 R H E
Siuslaw 3000112 7 8 0
Sutherlin 0001000 1 1 7
WP Garcia (1-0)
LP Palm (0-1)
Sv Erickson (1)
After two days of rain, the gods of baseball shone down upon Siuslaw and Sutherlin as the sun came out and the clouds parted just as Bulldog starting pitcher Ely Palm prepared to throw the first pitch of the 2022 baseball season.
The Vikings felt even more blessed after they put 3 runs on the board in the top of the first inning. Little did they know that is all they would need, as a combination of two senior pitchers would shut down the Bulldog bats for nearly the entire 7 innings of game one.
Senior Jason Garcia started for Siuslaw and showed none of the rust one would expect from a pitcher in the first outing of the season. Over 4 innings, Garcia struck out 6 while only allowing 1 hit, 2 walks and 1 earned run.
As is typical, Garcia had to overcome some first-game jitters before he settled down and began to pitch like he and his teammates knew he was capable.
“I was a little nervous coming out,” Garcia said. “Once I started pitching it wasn’t long before I found my groove.”
After getting into a little trouble in the 4th inning, when Sutherlin scored their lone run of the game, Viking Coach Tom Shinn replaced Garcia with fellow senior Beau Erickson.
Erickson picked up right where Garcia left off. The righthander pitched the final 3 innings of the game to earn the save. Erickson did not allow a single Bulldog hit, walked 1 and struck out 7.
Errorless defense by Siuslaw also helped to seal the victory. This was in sharp contrast to the 7 errors by the Bulldogs that resulted in a handful of unearned runs for the Viks.
“Great team effort by our team in this game,” said Shinn. “Defense did a great job of backing up our pitchers. Jason and Beau both threw lots of strikes and we played solid defense behind them.”
That defense was highlighted by the play of Henry Rankin, whose work behind the plate controlling errant pitches was key to keeping the Viks out of trouble. In the second inning, Rankin gunned down a Sutherlin runner mistakenly thinking he should test the strength of the senior catcher’s arm.
Highlights from the batter’s box include senior first baseman Ethan Halpin, who was 2 for 4 with a run and 2 RBI. Classmate Isaac Garza showed the same stat line (2-4, 1 R, 2 RBI) to go with a walk and a stolen base. Junior Ian Sissel went 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Game 2 R H E
Siuslaw 0000034 7 10 2
Sutherlin 0013100 5 5 2
WP Garza (1-0)
LP Mentes (0-1)
Sv Erickson (2)
Game two of the doubleheader was a bit more dramatic than the first.
Sutherlin took the lead in the third inning with a run and continued to add to that lead with 3 more runs in the fourth and another in the fifth.
Going into the sixth inning, the Vikings found themselves in a 5-run hole with only two innings to dig themselves out.
Siuslaw’s spirits never dampened, as indicated by the steady chatter emanating from the Viking dugout when the team came to bat in the sixth SHS would not go down without a fight.
They scored 3 in the sixth inning to cut the Bulldog lead to two then scored 4 more in the seventh to take the lead going into the bottom of the seventh.
“I was really excited to see the team fight back from some adversity,” said Shinn. “The guys settled in and fought their way back.”
The coach handed the ball to Erickson again in the seventh, hoping he could finish game two like he did the first.
As the sun set, Erickson knew he would have to work quickly to get this game in before dusk fell. His swift work proved effective, as he only needed 12 pitches to stifle Sutherlin’s attempt at a comeback. Siuslaw won the game 7-5.
“Beau had a clutch pitching performance in the second game to earn the save,” said Shinn. “He came in and threw strikes and worked quickly since it was getting dark.”
Halpin started on the mound for the Vikings and was effective, but, like game one, he did most of his damage at the plate. The pitcher/first baseman went 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored giving him 4 hits on the day.
“Ethan had a big day at the plate for us,” Shinn said.
The coach was pleased with how his team hit the ball.
“This second game really showed what baseball can be all about,” said Shinn. “In fact, we hit some balls very well and hard and they ended up being outs. Had a few of those found gaps, the start of the game could have been much better for us.”
Freshman Joel Sissel, playing in only his second high school baseball game, went 2 for 4 and drove in 2 runs. Garcia, who moved to catcher for game two after getting the win on the mound in game one, went 2 for 4 and drove in a run. Rankin picked up a hit, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.
Next, Siuslaw travels to the Klamath Falls area. They play a single game against Mazama on Friday after press deadlines and will play a doubleheader versus Klamath Union Saturday. First pitch of game one is at noon.
Both games will be broadcast in Florence on KCST 106.9 FM.