John C. Longton III
After fending off the Clinton Cougars and starting the season 13-3, the Hudson Valley baseball team lost a war to the Herkimer Generals this past week.
On Tuesday Apr. 21 the Vikings hosted the Clinton Cougars for a doubleheader that featured great pitching and a potent offense. The Vikings only surrendered two runs per game and added twenty of their own.
In game one pitcher Corey Hammel, from Shenendehowa, did not allow a hit in the three innings he threw while posting six strikeouts. That was backed up by Zack Steimer’s, from Ballston Spa, performance at the plate. Steimer went 3-3 with 3 RBIs and a homerun to left field as the Vikings cruised to a 15-2 win.
In game two Darren Conte, from Hudson, took to the rubber and threw to his brother Dustin who was catching that game. The two would do what they’ve done their whole lives and take command. Darren had 10 strikeouts in 6 and 2/3 innings and would only give up 1 run on 3 hits.
When asked if they enjoyed working together the two replied, “Yeah we’ve been doing it our whole life. Its’ easy. Just get the ball and throw the ball.” The two seem liked they’ve simplified a very complex game. Dustin calls the game and when he gives Darren the sign he doesn’t expect his brother to question the signal.
“I didn’t really shake him off that much today,” said Darren.
“Usually when he does he gets hit,” replied Dustin. The two seem to have good chemistry and sense of humor.
On Thursday Apr. 23, the Vikings took to the road for the series finale doubleheader at Clinton. Just like on Tuesday, it was smooth sailing as the Vikings posted a combined 24 runs and only gave up 3.
In game one the Vikings won 7-3 behind the bat of Jeff Bink, from Colonie. Bink went 2-3 at the plate with 3 RBIs, all of which are credited to a 3 run homerun.
In game two the Vikings mercied the Cougars in the 5th inning 17-0. Pitchers Tim Hughes, from Ravena, and Ryan Keefe, from Ballston Spa, combined for a no-hitter as the Vikings completed their sweep of the Cougars.
The Vikings got off to a great week, but as the momentum seemed it was building it took a sudden shift in their weekend series against the number one ranked team in the country, the Herkimer Generals.
On Saturday Apr. 25 the Viking’s great season and team play it had carried with them thus far didn’t take the trip west to Herkimer. The Vikings gave up 16 combined runs and only posted 3 or their own. The Herkimer Generals are a team that is favored to win the national championship and they just so happen to play in our division.
In game one, Brandon Martinez, from River Edge, NJ went 1-2 at the plate with an RBI, and Joe Bender, from Guilderland, went 1-3 with an RBI. It wasn’t enough as the Vikings fell 8-3. Both Martinez and Bender added another RBI in game two and Connor McDonough, from Lansingburgh went 3-4 as the Vikings lost again 8-3
On Sunday Apr. 26, the Vikings hosted the Generals for the second half of their four game series and had a similar outcome.
Game one was the closest they got to defeating the Generals as the game went into extra innings. Brandon Martinez hit a 3 run homerun in the 6th inning to pull the Vikings within one run of the Generals. In the bottom of the 7th the Vikings scored on an error to force extra innings, but would lose in the 8th 7-4.
Game two the Vikings would like to have back. They posted two hits total while getting blanked 6-0.
“Herkimer is the #1 team in the nation and we’re not even ranked and we were tied most of the series, but I thought we played well just not well enough,” said head coach Alex Jurczynski directly following the loss. He goes on to say,”It sort of stunk because we played a team like Clinton who had guys throwing low 70’s low 80’s. Then you see these guys throwing high 80’s low 90’s. So that threw us off.”
“They’ve got a couple good guys on their team this year. Talent wise I feel like we compare with them overall. They’re just a little more talented in some areas and keep their intensity more alive. We didn’t really keep the intensity as high as it needs to be like in the 1st game. When our intensity was high we were scoring runs,” said pitcher and first basemen Zack Steimer.
This week the Vikings have a series with the Adirondack Timberwolves home Tuesday Apr. 28 for a doubleheader at 2 p.m. and an away doubleheader Thursday Apr. 30 also at 2 p.m.
The Vikings finish the week out with an important series with the Schenectady Royals. The Royals have a 9-3 conference record and the series is shaping up to be a playoff preview. Saturday a doubleheader will be played in Schenectady at 12 p.m. before the Vikings host the Royals Sunday for another doubleheader at the Joe at the same time.