The old saying goes “it’s not how you start.  It’s how you finish.”  Over the past several games, the Ripley Vikings have not subscribed to that notion. The Vikes have torn the cover off the ball in the early innings of their recent contests, and have found themselves on the winning side because of it.  Winners of seven of their last eight, the Vikings are riding a hot streak thanks in large part to their revitalized bats.

On Wednesday night, the Vikings took on the AA no.1 Herbert Hoover Huskies.  It was the Vikings second straight game against a number one ranked team, as they fell to the AAA #1 Nitro Wildcats the night before.  After giving up three runs in the top of the first, the Vikings answered right back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning.  Easton Berry scored first on a Trevor Tucker single, then Luke Layhew slapped an RBI single that scored Anthony Jarvis.  Tucker then scored on Isaac Koontz’s RBI single to tie the game at three.  Things settled down after that, with both pitchers settling in.  The Huskies took the lead in the top of the fifth, and held it until the bottom of the seventh.  The Vikes tied the game in the most thrilling way possible, as Christopher Jordan stole home to bring the score to four all.  Isaac Koontz delivered in the clutch in the eighth, with a walk off, RBI single that scored Tucker, giving the Vikings the win, 5-4.  Tucker and Koontz led the way offensively, each going two for four.

Ripley starter Berry pitched the first five innings, and surrendered three hits, seven walks, two earned runs, and struck out three.  Layhew relieved Berry in the sixth, and finished the final three innings, and gave up two hits, one walk, and also struck out three.

“It was a great win for us,” said head coach Shane Casto, “A total team effort.  Good pitching, timely hitting and great baserunning.  Coach Young has done a great job with his program at Hoover, and to beat them twice in a season is huge for us.”

Against Spring Valley, the Vikings crushed the Timberwolves on the road, 15-1 in five innings.   A first inning outburst proved to be the turning point for Ripley, as they plated eight runs in the first inning.  They added seven more runs in the fourth to put the game away, Lane Casto and Cody Pittenger both went two for three with two RBIs, freshman Dalton Wentz went two for three, Koontz went one for three with two RBIs, Berry went two for three, Jordan went two for four, and Layhew went one for three with an RBI.

Sophomore Jared Bumpus was dominant, going all five innings and allowing only one hit and two walks.  He also struck out one batter.

The story remained the same for Ripley’s tilt with AAA no.3 Woodrow Wilson on Saturday.  The Vikings scored 14 of their 16 runs in the first three innings (eight in the first, five in the second, and one in the third) to thump the Eagles 16-9.  The Vikings amassed 16 hits total, as the Wilson pitching staff simply had no answer for Ripley’s hot bats.  Freshman Remy Boyce had a big day for the Vikings, going three for four with four RBIs, including an inside the park home run in the big first inning.  Jordan’s RBI single in the second made the score 13-1 and provided all the cushion the Vikings would need.  Woodrow Wilson added 6 runs in the top of the third, but could get no closer, as the Vikings added runs in the fourth and the sixth to put the game away, 16-9.  Cody Pittenger went two for three with three RBIs, Lane Casto went two for three with two RBIs, Koontz went two for four, while Jordan, Berry and Layhew each went two for five.

Layhew got the win for the Vikings and held the Eagles in check through two and a third innings.  Walks began to mount though, and Koontz was brought in in relief for the final four and two thirds innings.

Not surprisingly, Coach Casto was thrilled with his team’s offensive output.

“We’ve really started hitting the ball from top to bottom these last few games,” Casto said, “I’m very pleased with the way we’ve been playing.  We’ve won seven of eight and beaten some good teams along the way.”

The Vikings are currently 13-10 on the year, and hope they can maintain the momentum they’ve built during the stretch.  They return to action on Tuesday at home at 5:30pm against the Parkersburg South Patriots.