Archers stop Vikings on way to sectional crown

The Huntington North High School baseball team was limited to two hits in six innings by South Side’s Xavier Croxton and saw its season come to an end with a 6-4 loss to the Archers in the semifinals of the Huntington North Sectional on Friday, May 24, at Forest Glen Park.

It was a familiar ending for the Vikings, 13-12, who lost to the Archers in the sectional semifinal round last season as well. Coach Jarod Hammel’s squad punched its ticket to the round with an 8-2 victory over Wayne on May 22. South Side received a bye.

Croxton made the win possible for South Side, 3-13. In addition to yielding just a pair of hits, the senior hurler limited Huntington North to three runs, two of which were earned, while striking out six and walking six in his half-dozen frames on the mound.

Croxton also helped his own cause at the plate, batting in a run while touching home plate twice. Cole Hapner, Trevor Hapner and Javarious Jones supported their pitcher with two hits and a run batted in apiece.

The Archers wasted no time getting on the board, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. While the Vikings would respond in their half of the frame, with Keegan Bartrom driving in fellow senior Mason Anderson, they would get shut out for the next five innings.

South Side had no such trouble. The visitors scored once in the second and twice in the third before tacking on an insurance tally in the sixth to build a commanding 6-1 lead. The Archers were primed to add even more runs in the seventh, loading the bases with just one out, but Viking reliever Levi Bennett and his defense managed to get out of the jam.

The Huntington North offense made a late push in the bottom of the seventh. Senior Brett Kaylor kicked things off with a walk, then advanced to second on a passed ball. After sophomore Matt Schnepp drew a walk, South Side replaced Croxton with reliever Elias Perez. While Perez proceeded to retire seniors Zach Daugherty and Trey Williams, he hit Bartrom with a pitch, walking in a run. Senior Nathan Hall then smacked a double, plating two more runs. The rally proved to be too little, too late, however, as South Side recorded the final out to end the game.

Williams took the loss on the mound for Huntington North. The senior pitched the first 2.1 innings, permitting two hits and five runs, four of which were earned, while fanning two and walking four.

Daugherty recorded the final two outs in the third, yielding a hit while walking one and striking out one. He was relieved by Bennett in the fourth, who pitched the remainder of the game for Huntington North. The senior limited South Side to four hits and an earned run while recording five strikeouts and issuing one walk.

South Side advanced to the sectional championship game on May 27, where it faced Homestead, which was a 12-2 winner over North Side in semifinals. The Archers dispatched the Spartans, 4-0, to win the sectional title for the second year in a row.