RIPLEY- One of the maxims of baseball is that the final three outs are the hardest to get.  No one knows that better than the Ripley Vikings, who once again fell victim to a seventh inning rally, this time against the Cabell Midland Knights.  The Knights scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning Tuesday night, and even though the Vikes had both the tying runs on second and third, they could not manage to push them across and fell 9-7.

Sophomore left hander Jared Bumpus got the start for the Vikings, and held the powerful Cabell Midland lineup in check for most of the night.  Bumpus went 5 1/3 innings, giving up 10 hits, one walk, three earned runs, and struck out one batter.  Junior Isaac Koontz replaced him in the sixth inning, allowing three runs (two earned) over his 2/3 of an inning.  Sophomore Logan McCoy came in for the seventh, and took the loss for the Vikings, giving up three walks, two hits, and two earned runs, while striking out two.

The Vikings offense jumped all over the Knights early, scoring two runs in the top of the first.  Chris Jordan led off the game with a single, then scored on an error by the Midland catcher, Easton Berry followed with a single of his own, and then scored on Jonny Stepp’s RBI single.  

The Knights fought back with two runs of their own in the top of the second, but freshman third baseman Lane Casto broke the tie in the bottom of the inning with a home run to left field.

The Vikes added two more runs in the bottom of the third, when a Trevor Tucker double scored Remy Boyce and Koontz to make the score 5-2.  Jonny Stepp’s RBI double in the bottom of the fourth scored Jordan and Berry, putting the Vikes up 7-2 and firmly in control.  

However, the Vikings simply could not maintain the momentum, and the Knights chipped away at the lead.  Midland scored two runs in the top of the sixth.  

Walks and errors opened the door in the top of the seventh for Midland, as they managed to push across five runs to take the lead 9-7.  

Ripley looked to be in business for the comeback in the bottom of the inning, as both Stepp and Koontz were hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.  They moved to second and third thanks to an error by Midland standout Seth Kinker off of Tucker’s ground ball, but it was not meant to be.  Luke Layhew grounded out to short, and Stepp was thrown out at home to end the game with the final score 9-7 for the Knights.

Stepp led the way for the Vikes, finishing 3-4 with a double and two singles and three RBIs, Jordan went 2-4 with two singles, Berry went 1-4, Casto went 1-3 with the homer, and Tucker finished 1-4.  

After the game, head coach Shane Casto stressed the importance of his team playing all seven innings and putting other teams away when presented with the opportunity.

“I thought we took it to them for six innings,” Casto said.  “We have to make the routine plays when it counts and make first pitch strikes. When we have our chances to knock a team out, we have to take full advantage of it.  You can’t give the [Class AAA] defending runner-ups chances.”

While the late loss certainly stings for the young Vikings team, they know have an opportunity for redemption on Thursday night when they play George Washington at Viking Park.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:00pm