Vikings can’t cool off Cavaliers
The Richland Northeast Cavaliers stayed red hot winning their third straight ball game thanks to Domineke Albert who went 3–for–4 with a home run, an RBI, and run to lead the visiting Cavaliers over Spring Valley 5–3 Friday, April 1. He also stole a base and stopped a stolen base attempt from his catcher’s position by gunning down Spring Valley’s Michael Meir at second base in the third inning.
Albert’s performance negated a strong outing by Viking pitcher Dane Windham. The senior southpaw struck out five Cavaliers, walked none, and allowed three runs in 5–2/3 innings of work. Dropped pick–off attempts, errant throws, and some bad luck also led to the Vikings’ demise.
Anthony Paulsen got Spring Valley going in the bottom of the second inning with a line shot over the centerfield fence. Later in that same inning, Kevin Hastings drilled another ball to centerfield that looked like it could have scored Matt Garnett at sec- ond base and Evan Polk at third base, but thanks to a nice play by centerfielder Shawn Carrion only Polk was able to tag up and reach home giving the Vikings a 2–0 lead.
The Cavaliers ( 6– 8, 4–4) did not answer until the top half of the fourth inning when Albert led off with a single then advanced to second on a balk. Albert then scored when Windham’s attempt to throw out Jason Mohn after he bunted sailed into right field. Windham then had Mohn picked off at first base, but Mohn advanced to second when the throw from first was dropped. Mohn advanced to third after Kevin Fulmer’s sacrifice bunt.
The Vikings (8–4, 7–2) appeared to have Mohn again when he was hung up between home and third base after Zach Crumlich popped up his suicide squeeze bunt, but another errant throw allowed Mohn safely back to third. He then scored on Jason Washburn’s infield hit tying the game at 2–2.
The Vikings threatened again in the bottom of the fifth with one out after Trae Dent reached on a walk and USC commitment Taylor Guerrieri, who was 2– for– 2 at the time, came to the plate, but RNE pitcher Jason Washburn coaxed a ground ball out of him and shortstop Jake Mueller turned an unassisted double play.
Albert then came to the plate in the top of the sixth and promptly crushed a pitch over the left centerfield fence to give RNE a 3–2 lead. Two batters later, Fulmer hit a shot just past the diving Polk at first base. Fulmer then advanced to second after a perfect bunt from Ryne Maness.
That was it for Windham as Austin Hill took the mound in relief moving from shortstop. He faced Washburn first who hit a ground ball up the middle that was coraled, but an errant throw to third base allowed Bradley Gibson (pinch running for Fulmer) to score. Then bad luck struck the Vikings as Hastings lost Preston Bayne’s towering fly ball to left in the lights allowing Jovon Golden–Cook (pinch running for Washburn) to score and give RNE a 5–2 lead.
The Vikings struck back in the bottom of the sixth. Hill reached on a walk, then Paulsen hit a double off the right centerfield fence advancing Hill to third base. Polk’s sacrifice fly plated Hill, but Paulsen was thrown out at third base ending the threat.
After Hill shut down the Cavaliers in the top of the seventh, Washburn completed the game for RNE throwing out Daniel Mercer on a bunt attempt for a single, then he induced two ground balls to end the inning and earn the win.
Washburn struck out two, walked two, and scattered six Spring Valley hits.
Guerrieri went 2– for– 3 for Spring Valley, while Paulsen was 2–for–2 with a home run, a double, a run, and an RBI.
This was the third straight win for the Cavaliers, while it was the third straight loss for the Vikings.
Spring Valley sits in second place in Region IV–4A with region games against third place Dutch Fork and last place Lugoff–Elgin remaining. The Vikings will participate in the Forest Acres Classic from April 5–8 (See coverage on page 15).
The Cavaliers continued their hot streak April 5 with a 4–3 win over Aiken and are currently in fourth place in Region IV–4A, a half–game behind Dutch Fork (4–3). They will face the Silver Foxes April 11 and also have region contests remaining with Irmo (2–6), Ridge View (1–4), and Blythewood (5–1).