JAMESTOWN — Suffice to say, the Valley City baseball team hasn’t had the smoothest start to its season.
For one, the team currently has a handful of ineligible players, leaving only nine players to fill out the roster.
The result is nine guys, some playing out of position, who are forced to take all the at-bats, pitch all the innings and hold down the fort until some of the missing pieces are eligible later this month.
“Obviously, we’re starting some freshmen, a whole bunch of sophomores and only a few seniors, we’re not going to blow anybody away,” coach Trevar Hansen said. “What I really want is to see improvement every game. Let’s get better every game, or even just every double header.”
In a double header Monday at Jack Brown Stadium in Jamestown, the team lost both games to the Blue Jays, 11-1 in the first game and 11-0 in the second. Aside from hitting though (the Vikings had no hits in either game), the overall play from the team was improved, even from Thursday when the teams met up in Valley City.
Starting pitcher Austin Berg was aggressive on the mound, jumping out to 0-2 counts on hitters as his defense stayed strong behind him.
After hitting the first batter of the game and allowing a single to the second, he retired three of the next four batters and escaped the inning without allowing a run.
He allowed a walk to start of the next inning, which was one of two runs that scored in the second. He allowed one more in the third after walking the leadoff hitter, which left the Hi-Liners trailing 3-0.
The Blue Jays didn’t start to run away with the game until the fourth, when four of the first five batters reached base and eventually scored to make it 7-0. The game later ended in the sixth inning after a one-out double brought in the game-ending run off pitcher Josh Magnuson.
Hansen was largely pleased with his team’s performance in the game, although he said the team needs to do a better job limiting runs from hit batters and walks.
Despite not getting a hit, the team found a way to score.
Spencer Meyer was hit by a pitch to start the fifth inning. Despite numerous pickoff attempts by Jamestown, he stole second base, then scored on a ground ball by Berg.
The Hi-Liners struggled early in the second game, allowing all 11 runs in the first three innings. The game was called after Valley City batted in the fifth.
The only Hi-Liners to reach base in the game were Andrew Glaser, who walked in the second inning, and Masyn Olson, who reached on a dropped third strike later that inning.
Hansen said that although the missing players won’t be a cure all for the team’s woes, it will help to get fresh arms on the field, along with a defense that is improving with each game.
“If we throw strikes and play a little defense, games are a lot different,” he said.