Flames come back for win

Northgate roared back for a win against Apollo-Ridge this week. Pictured above are second baseman Austin Farmerie, backed up by Anthony Barbarino. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By JIM RUMBLE

After losing their first two games of the season on the road, the Northgate Flames baseball team returned home to host Apollo Ridge in section play this past Monday. Trailing by three runs late in the contest, the Flames roared back to secure a 9-7 victory to even their record at 1-1 in the section.

“These kids fought back, didn’t give up – they held their heads high and battled to the very end,” said coach Brandon Hogle.

Northgate’s starting pitcher, Caleb Turner, set the Viking batters down in order before the Flames got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. Austin Farmerie led off the inning with a base hit to center field and John Amick followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Farmerie over to second base.Turner then hit a grounder to third base. An error on a high throw to first base put runners on first and third bases for the Flames. Ryan Snelsire followed with a grounder to third base, and the throw for the force-out at second base was off target, allowing a run in and Northgate runners at the corners. Anthony Barbarino drew a walk to load the bases and Northgate picked up another run when Clayton Cooper earned a base on balls, giving the Flames a 2-0 lead.

Apollo Ridge got on the board with a run in the top of the second and moved ahead in the top of the third with three runs to lead 4-2. The Vikings added two runs in the top of the fourth before the Flames got something going in the bottom of the inning.

Zach Reskovac led off with a hit to center field and Cooper followed with a routine grounder to the pitcher, but the first baseman came off the bag on the throw, allowing Northgate runners at first and second bases.Matt Laughlin drew a walk to load the bases and the Flames took advantage of a throwing error to bring a run home, and Amick drove a run in to cut the Northgate deficit to 6-4.

Reskovic came to the mound in relief of Turner in the top of the fifth, but Apollo Ridge was able to capitalize on a couple of Northgate fielding errors in the top of the sixth to up their lead to 7-4.

The Flames responded nicely in their half of the inning to take over the lead. A walk issued to Ryan Puskar and a base hit by Farmerie put two runners on to start the inning, and Amick’s sacrifice bunt moved both into scoring position. Turner followed with a base hit to bring a run in and then stole second base to put runners at second and third bases. Snelsire’s grounder to shortstop was bobbled, which allowed a run to score and the Flames to move runners to second and third bases again, trailing 7-6. Barbarino followed with an infield hit to load the bases, then Reskovac delivered a clutch hit to center field to score two runs for an 8-7 Northgate lead. Back-to-back walks issued to Brandon Hammel and Puskar brought another run across home plate, putting Northgate in front 9-7.

Reskovac set down the Apollo Ridge batters in order in the top of the seventh to earn the win and secure the Flames victory.

“We try to put the ball in play and aim to move the runners over,” said Hogle. “I always tell ,these guys, small ball wins games and some of those little things pay off in the long run.”