John C. Longton III
The baseball team is tied for first place with the nationally ranked Herkimer Generals with less than half of the season remaining.
Second year head coach Alex Jurczynski has his team playing at a high level with even higher aspirations. Toting a 15-1 conference record this Viking team is on pace to have a season for the ages.
The Vikings currently have the best batting average in the nation (.416), best on base percentage (.496), are ranked second in slugging percentage (.573) and have shut other teams down holding their opposition to a .219 batting average, which is third in the nation. They are firing on all cylinders and seem to have hit their stride a week before facing regional foe Herkimer Generals.
The Generals have been a perennial power in the conference and have given the Vikings fits in the past. Last year, Herkimer beat Hudson Valley in all four games they faced off a combined score of 29-10. Furthermore, since 2012, the Vikings have only defeated the Generals twice and haven’t won a season series with them since 2011.
The Generals are currently ranked 10th in the nation and have made it to the college world series the past two years, but the Vikings are on a conquest after receiving an honorable mention in the national rankings for the first time in since making the college world series themselves in 2008.
This is no mistake. In his first full year with the team, coach Jurczynski worked hard in recruiting to put together a team that has a nice mixture that blends talent and personalities. His clubhouse is full of a few characters and practical jokers, but when it comes to playing the game, they’re all on the same page and bring a business like mentality to the ballpark.
“The group of guys that we have are baseball guys,” said Juczynski. “They all love the game and they all want to win.”
Jurczynski has a tight knit ball club that seems to have great team chemistry and really enjoy to play for their young coach.
“This team is great,” said center fielder Connor McDonough. McDonough is a second year player and has really been an impact bat averaging over an RBI per game.
In terms of playing for coach Jurczynski, McDonough echos the sentiment of the rest of the team.
“[Jurczynski] is the main part of the team. He’s like the glue. He helps out with problems other than baseball,” said McDonough.
McDonough hits second in a very formidable lineup that has the ability to manufacture runs at any given moment. So far the Vikings have blazed a trail this season with one hiccup coming in their only conference loss to Adirondack. This weekend could be a statement series for the Vikings that have been losing wars to the Generals for a long time.
Herkimer is 19-1, with their only blemish coming from the Adirondack team that beat Hudson Valley.
For the past few weeks the Vikings have been squeezing eight games into the week. This week the stars aligned and gave Hudson Valley the week off before traveling to Herkimer this Saturday to begin their weekend series that could ultimately decide the conference.
“It’s definitely going to be nice to give the guys a day off,” said Jurczynski. “Eight games a week takes a toll.”
In terms of what Jurczynski has planned for his team in preparation to square off with the Generals, he said, “Hopefully we’ll be able to fine tune so of their mechanics and get rid of some of their flaws.”
“I’m excited for a big series. This is what we’ve been looking for,” the coach added.
The Vikings have a chance to jump into the national conversation with a good outing against the Herkimer Generals. If they could take the series or even split they will be in a great position to win the conference and go on a post-season run.
On Saturday the Vikings will travel out to Herkimer for a two game set that begins at noon. The following day Hudson Valley will play host to the Generals for another two game set that also begins at noon.
McDonough and his teammates know how important this weekend is, but they aren’t trying to get too ahead of themselves.
“We’re really trying to go one game at a time, one inning at a time and one pitch at a time,” said McDonough. “We’re just want to take it real slow, get ahead and stay ahead.”