The Vikings entered the week with the best

By Brian King Record-Courier staff correspondent Published:

The Vikings entered the week with the best record in the Portage County League National Division, in fact they were the only unbeaten team in the entire league.

But then again Waterloo hadn't met Mogadore until this week.

The Wildcats (6-6, 4-3 PCL), behind a power display by sophomore Jon Raddish and a timely double by senior Billy Pickering, ended hopes of a Waterloo comeback and secured their second win over the Vikings in four days Thursday with a thrilling 8-7 triumph. With the two victories over first-place Waterloo, the Wildcats have made things interesting in the PCL National Division, climbing to within one game of the Vikings.

"They got off to a great start. We are the only team that has beaten them in the league," said Mogadore head coach John Cravens. "I thought it was a great ballgame."

The Wildcats wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard. After Waterloo went down in order to start the game, Johnny Josef (2-for-4) singled off Waterloo starter Jason Crider (4-1) and scored on another single by Mark Weyrick (1-for-4, RBI) to open a 1-0 advantage.

Jason Belacic got the start for the Wildcats and controlled the early going. Belacic allowed just one hit while striking out four in the opening four innings. Crider settled in himself, but then disaster struck in the fourth.

After Weyrick reached on an error, Raddish sent a Crider offering over the left-field fence pushing the Mogadore lead to 3-0.

The Vikings weren't ready to call it a day, though.

Aaron White (2-for-3) got the ball rolling in the fifth for Waterloo as the third baseman launched a shot to the deepest section of the park which hit off the fence for a lead-off double. Belacic started to struggle with the strike zone and the Mogadore defense fell apart.

Consecutive errors and two hit batsmen saw the Vikings climb back into the game as they tied the score with three runs in the inning. Josef came on for Belacic to get the final out of the inning.

"I thought Belacic pitched a nice ballgame for five innings," said Cravens. "He just got tired is all."

The Wildcats wasted no time in regaining the lead as Raddish came through again. This time with two on and two out in the fifth, Raddish went deep over the left-field fence for his third, fourth, and fifth runs batted in on the day and his second consecutive home run. Raddish put the Wildcats back on top 6-3.

Waterloo fought back again as Belacic returned to start the sixth. A pair of walks ended Belacic's day as freshman Greg Lawrentz came on in relief. Jim Sullivan (2-for-5) singled to load the bases then the Vikings cut the deficit to 6-4 as Adam Schultz (0-for-2, 2 RBI) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for the second straight inning.

Controversy then crept into the picture.

Erick Leigh (1-for-4, RBI) called for time and stepped out of the batter's box but no call was made by the home-plate umpire. Lawrentz had begun his approach to the plate, then tried to pick off Bo Cooksey (0-for-3) at third. The Waterloo coaches wanted a balk call but the umpires ignored the pleas. Leigh smacked a single to right field scoring Cooksey but right fielder Mike Shull tossed a rocket to the plate to nip Sullivan and end the Waterloo threat.

"I'm not going to say the umpires lost us a game, but I will say that they could have helped us win it," said Waterloo head coach Doug Mori. "Our fastest kid (Sullivan) tried to score from second and that kid threw a bullet to the plate and got him."

Defense continued to kill Vikings comeback attempts. Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth, Waterloo committed two errors that saw a run score and pushed the Wildcat lead to 7-5.

But Waterloo still had the seventh inning.

White continued to sparkle as he keyed a rally with a single to put two on for Sullivan. The centerfielder again responded, lacing a shot to left field which scored two and tied the game at 7-7. White impressed all day not only at the plate, but with some defense as well.

"It is nice to see a big man have some success," said Mori. "He hit the ball well and even turned a nice double play."

It all came down to the bottom of the seventh as the Wildcats faced the prospect of extra innings. Again, it was the Waterloo defense that sealed the fate of the Vikings. With one out, an error put Raddish on first and a two-out double by senior Billy Pickering beat the relay throws for the Mogadore victory.

Crider went the distance, but only surrendered two earned runs.

"We didn't hit in some crucial situations with men on base and made too many errors against a good team," said Mori. "It was a good game to watch. If I was a fan in a lounge chair, I would have enjoyed this one."

_____

Mogadore 8, Waterloo 7

(At Mogadore)

WATERLOO 000 032 2 _ 7 6 7

MOGADORE 100 231 1 _ 8 7 5

Crider & Conley. Belacic, Josef (5), Belacic (6), Lawrentz (6), Josef (7) & Weyrick.

WP _ Josef (3-2). LP _ Crider (4-1).

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