John C. Longton III
The baseball team is 24-6 heading into their postponed matchup with their regional foe Herkimer Generals.
The Vikings will host the Generals on Tuesday for a double header that was pushed back twice due to inclement weather. Originally the two teams were paired to square off at “The Joe” on Sunday, May 1. That was until the baseball gods decided that both teams should end their regular seasons playing each other. It’s only right that a magical season with high expectations should end in this fashion.
Since the game had to be pushed back, so far it interrupts with a week that the Vikings were supposed to have off. Sub regionals are to begin on Saturday and this week is designated for teams to get healthy and fine tune their rosters for postseason play.
“It’s going to hurt us a little bit with our pitching because we’re trying to save our best arms for the playoffs,” said Head Coach Alex Jurczynski. “We are going to treat this like any other game, but we are going to compete.”
The series also comes at a time where the pitching staff is looking a little lighter. During the first game at Herkimer last Saturday, starting pitcher Nick Teitter had an early exit due to stiffness in his elbow. Well that inflammation could be season ending as he and the team are holding their breaths waiting on an MRI result.
Teitter has been a bulldog on the mound for the Vikings so far this season. He threw a no-hitter in his first outing at the Joe and is averaging a strikeout and a half per inning. He also brings a big bat to a lineup that is first in the nation in batting average (.400) and also first in the nation in on base percentage (.490). Teitter is hitting .477 with 15 RBIs and has everyone hoping that his bat can still at least be utilized.
“We’re waiting on MRI results to see if it’s severe or mild,” said Jurczynski. “If it’s mild he can come back and play first [base] and swing that bat a little bit, but I’m not trying to put his career in my hand,” he added.
The Vikings do have a bit of depth to overcome the war of attrition and they have their eyes on the prize.
“I want to win our regionals,” said Darren Conte when asked about his postseason goals. “I want to win our home series, go to the final four and play good baseball there.”
Conte has been a major contributor to the Viking’s success in his two year span with the team. Last year he led the nation in with a .489 batting average and this year has picked up where he left off hitting .493, which is fifth in the nation.
The Vikings were an honorable mention in the national rankings for back to back weeks heading into their matchup with Herkimer last weekend. They won the first game 6-5 and took a dip in their performance since then.
“After our win against Herkimer we kind of took things for granted,” said Conte.
At the time Herkimer was ranked seventh in the nation and the Vikings played with a little less urgency after the win. They lost the second game 6-0 and dropped their next two games away at Jefferson.
“We’ve been a little flat as of late,” said Jurczynski talking about his team’s performance early in the week.
Since then the Vikings have righted the ship and won six in a row and have outscored their opponents 42-20. They have to bring their hot bats Tuesday because they face a Herkimer team that have moved up a spot and are now sixth in the nation with a 20-2 conference record. They beat them once this season and will try to do so again.
The Vikings are favored to host a home sub-regional matchup this weekend on Saturday and wait for the cards to fall to know their fate after that. The game has a chance to be played under the lights where the Vikings like their odds. They played under the lights for the first time this year on Mother’s Day and beat Fulton-Montgomery 12-7.
“It was definitely a cool experience,” said Jurczynski. “I think it’s much easier to see the ball under the lights. Especially here because they’re state of the art. They guys are fired up for it.”