Vikings 4-2 on Florida swing
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A visit to St. Augustine for the Florida Winter Classic last week produced four wins in six tries for the Missouri Valley College baseball team.
The Vikings got off to a hopeful start with a March 14 sweep of Georgetown (Ky.), needing comebacks to win both of them, 3-2 and 8-4.
After junior Daniel Scott's two-run single in the top of the first inning got the Tigers off to a good start, Viking senior Nick Parker and junior James Erdelac shut them down the remaining eight innings -- retiring the side in order the final four frames.
Junior Justin Shiverdecker's RBI single in the fifth and a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh by sophomore Matt Barkley kept Valley alive. A one-out error in the ninth set up junior Kelly Callanan for the game-winning single.
Senior Brian Franco twice came through in clutch situations for the Vikings in the nightcap. Franco cleared the loaded bases with a double in the top of the first, but Georgetown's hurlers then threw five scoreless innings and chipped away at the deficit before finally catching up on freshman Cody Miller's double in the sixth.
Enter senior Pat Frost, who got out of that jam and breezed through the seventh with four straight strikeouts. Barkley doubled to tie the score and scored the go-ahead run on a single. Franco's two-run single gave Frost the insurance policy he didn't need to cash in.
Valley was hoping to make some noise Wednesday against Embry-Riddle (Fla.), newly installed as the NAIA's No. 1 team. However, the Vikings were unable to bunch hits together until late in the game and were unable to make up a six-run deficit during a 7-4 loss.
The Eagles (29-0), though, were given a little bit of a scare after taking a 7-1 lead into the top of the ninth. A walk, singles by senior Mike Serrata and Barkley, an error and senior Mark Saunderson's two-run double closed the gap. When Franco was hit by a pitch, the tying run was on first base, but junior Chris Langlois induced Shiverdecker to tap down the first-base line for a game-ending tag-out.
If Valley missed some chances against ERA, it was efficient in disposing of Flagler (Fla.) an inning early the next day, 10-0. Saunderson plated two runs with a double to give the Vikings a 5-0 lead in the fourth, an RBI double by junior Matt Buechting capped a three-run sixth and Callanan smacked a solo homer in the top of the eighth put the Saints (15-16) away.
On the mound, sophomore Nick Bowers allowed just three hits and struck out six over six innings and juniors Aaron Russell and Eric Norbut each pitched a shutout frame.
Valley capped off the series Friday by splitting with NCAA Division III member Felician (N.J.), winning Friday's opener, 4-3, before dropping the getaway game, 5-3.
Junior Ryan Murphy allowed just one run in five innings of work to pick up his third win, with Frost closing it out for his sixth save -- despite being tagged with a pair of unearned runs. Sophomore Jordan Lundberg's double in the first put the Vikings in front and Franco doubled home runs in the fourth and fifth sets to make it 4-1.
Senior Brent Phelan had three hits and knocked in a run and Shiverdecker had an RBI double to put Valley ahead 2-1 in the second, but junior right-hander Mike Taylor couldn't hold on. Senior Pete Sidler and freshmen Joseph Algieri and Frank Quintana each doubled for two runs in the fourth and two Taylor walks and a pair of singles off of Erdelac in the fifth gave the Golden Falcons (2-7) all the runs they needed.
Before leaving the Sunshine State, the Vikings (13-11) played an exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins' Class A team, emptying the bench during an 11-3 loss highlighted by Parker's four shutout innings.
Valley will be back on the road today for a doubleheader at NAIA Region V rival Missouri Baptist.