Baseball defeats Wilcox 2-1 at home

Shannon Scheel, Columnist

This Wednesday afternoon, the Palo Alto High School Vikings fought a close battle with the Wilcox Chargers, emerging with a 2-1 at-home victory. Though the Chargers had seven hits to the Vikings’ three, the Vikings were able to emerge victorious due to solid defense and good, strategic pitching from both Pomona college-bound Kevin Kannappan (’12) and John Dickerson (’12).

The players knew what to expect facing Wilcox, according to Kannappan.

“Wilcox has always been at the top of our league, they are one of the toughest teams we have to play,” Kannappan said.

In the first three innings, Kannappan held Wilcox to two hits. Despite a defensive glitch in the top of the third, the Vikings’ fielding kept the Chargers scoreless. The lone run came from B.J. Boyd (’12), who got on base with a single, stole second and came in off of an Ozzy Braff (’12) hit.

At the bottom of the third, Jacob Lauing (’12) fouled off a bunt before striking out, and both Boyd  and Jack Witte (’12) grounded out for the Vikings. Wilcox got a runner on base early in the inning with a hit to right center field that was overthrown. A quick lapse in fielding allowed another Wilcox batter on base before the fielder’s choice got the first out of the inning at first base for the Vikings. Kannappan struck out #9 looking to prevent any Chargers’ runs.

Kannappan notes that though the team has lost a few key seniors, talent and comraderie can be found in other outlets: new players.

“Our team is a completely new team this year. Last year we had a few guys that could really hit the ball and really put some power into it,” Kannappan said. “We had a few guys carrying our team offensively and a few guys pitching, but this year we are more evenly balanced. We have a lot of guys who can hit, maybe not as much power but we have a lot of guys who are good at filling a role and have a much larger depth this year.”

During the bottom of the fourth, Braff struck out looking after two foul balls. Dickerson hit a single to right field and got on base for the Vikings. Dickerson was unable to advance when Isaac Feldstein (’14) flied out to right field. Catcher Christian Lonsky (’12) was unable to finish his at bat as Dickerson was caught stealing at second to end the inning.

#14 led off for the Chargers at the top of the fifth, and got on base off of a single to center field. Wilcox earned three back-to-back outs to end with no runs scored. Vikings pinch hitter Justin Grey (’12) flied out to center field, preventing the Paly runner who stole third base from scoring

At the top of the sixth, Wilcox finally got on the board with a homerun from #20, tying up the game. After a strikeout, Wilcox got on base once again with a double to right center field. Kannappan struck out another Charger to prevent any more Wilcox runs. At the bottom of the sixth, Boyd got on base with a single and proceeded to steal second, third, and home for the Vikings’ second run.

Kannappan commended Boyd’s – and the rest of the team’s – effort to maintain the lead after the single shot.

“It was all about the team today. They picked me up after I gave up that solo shot and came out and scored a run that inning,” Kannappan said.  “They gave me something to work with.”

At the top of the seventh, Dickerson finished the game as pitcher for the Vikings, finishing off the game with two strikeouts to go along with Kannappan’s six.

Head Coach Eric Raich was quite pleased with his starting pitcher’s performance.

“Kevin [Kannappan] threw pretty darn good today,” Raich said. “If he throws like that we’re going to have a pretty good year. When Kevin is in the zone, I think he is one of the hardest guys to hit.”

If there is anything for the team to improve on, according to Kannappan it is the basics. Raich points out, however, that his team will go a step beyond focusing on simply mechanics.

“Yeah, we preach mechanics [and teach players to do] the correct thing, but it’s more of simplifying the game: throw the ball over the plate, play catch and have good at bats,” Raich said.

The Vikings play at Wilcox this coming Friday afternoon.