Viks prepare for league play with tough match-up

Senior Ethan Halpin pitched a complete game for the Vikings against Hidden Valley on April 5. Halpin has excelled on the mound and also at the plate this year for Siuslaw. (Photo by Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News)

Siuslaw faces #1 Hidden Valley

April 9, 2022 — On Friday, April 1, when Siuslaw Athletic Director Chris Johnson announced that he had added a last-minute game to the Viking baseball team’s non-league schedule, the team’s fans were excited. When he announced the April 5 game would be against Hidden Valley, some thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke.

A joke it was not.

The bulldogs of southern Oregon’s Skyline Conference would come into the game at Siuslaw with a 4A record 26-game win streak. That streak is tied for the eighth longest in Oregon high school baseball history, over all divisions.

By agreeing to the game, the Vikings would have a huge challenge, but would also have the opportunity to put an end to a historic streak.

A challenge it most definitely was. Hidden Valley showed why they are ranked #1 in both the OSAA coaches’ poll and its computer rankings and beat Siuslaw 8-2.

The Vikings played great baseball for the home crowd for most of the game. Besides two innings, they played even baseball with the Mustangs, one of the top teams in the state.

The game was tied 2-2 in the fifth inning when Hidden Valley’s Blake Zehe singled and drove in a run to give the Mustangs the lead. They would score another run that inning to go up 4-2 – and it would stay that way until the final frame, when Hidden Valley put four runs on the board in the seventh.

Even in the loss, senior starting pitcher Ethan Halpin was stellar on the mound for Siuslaw. Halpin struck out 6 and only allowed 2 walks over 7 innings against one of the toughest line-ups in the entire state.

“Ethan threw a fantastic complete game,” said Tom Shinn, Viking coach. “I was really happy how he handled some stressful situations while on the mound.”

Halpin has pitched great all season. Even after giving up 6 earned runs, his ERA sits at an impressive 3.06. He’s also struck out 18 batters in just 16 innings. 

The Viking offense had four hits on the day.

Senior Beau Erickson went 2 for 3 with an RBI and also swiped his team leading 12th base of the season.

“Beau Erickson had a strong night at the plate,” said Shinn.

Speedy freshman Joel Sissel continued his impressive play in his debut season, going 2 for 3 with a run and two stolen bases.

“Joel was a bright spot on offense this evening,” Shinn added.

The coach was glad to have one of the top high school baseball teams in the state visit Dodson Field in Florence and thinks it will help his team in future games moving forward.

“Hidden Valley is a really good baseball team and our team was right with them all game long,” Shinn said. “Scheduling top caliber opponents is helping us become a better team, and I am confident we can use this as momentum going into the Creswell game.”

That Creswell game was Thursday after press deadlines.

Creswell was the Viks’ final non-league test before what looks like could be, based on Siuslaw’s play so far this season, an exciting Sky-Em League season.

Before the Creswell game, the Vikings sat at 5-4 going into league play. Those five wins already represent the most victories in an entire season in Shinn’s four seasons here at Siuslaw. Before the season, Shinn stated his team’s goal was to reach the post season. The team appears to be on course to have the chance to reach its goal.

Based on the preseason, the Sky-Em is anyone’s game. As of April 6, Elmira, who is 5-3, is the surprise top-ranked team from the league in OSAA 4A computer rankings, sitting at #10. Next is Junction City (5-4, #12), the Viks (5-4, #13), Marist (3-4, #14), Marshfield (3-4, #18) and Cottage Grove (2-6, #24).

Last week’s 4A coaches’ poll included Marist at #7 and Siuslaw at #8.

Next for the Viks is the first game of the Sky-Em season. Siuslaw travels to Eugene to face Marist Catholic on Tuesday, April 12. First pitch is at 5 p.m. Hear Wayne Sharpe’s call of the game on KCST 106.9 FM.