Pitcher Ross Wilson had seen this situation before -- Heath's Kameron Herring striding to the plate with two outs in the seventh inning.
The last time was April 20. Wilson was playing first base for the Northridge High School baseball team when Herring homered in a 4-3 win in the second game of a doubleheader sweep by the Bulldogs.
This time, with Northridge holding a one-run lead in a Division III district final May 24, Wilson didn't want to allow such heroics. He induced Herring to hit a deep fly ball to sophomore center fielder Greg Wilson for the final out as the Vikings held on for a 10-9 victory at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
The Vikings won their first district title in their first district final appearance since 2002. The game had been suspended because of bad weather after a half inning May 23.
"The only thing going through my mind was that we had been here before and it didn't turn out well," Ross Wilson said. "I had bad memories of that and wasn't going to let that happen again."
Who could have blamed Wilson for being wary of the situation? Runs were being scored in bunches by both teams. The Vikings got two-run singles by Greg Wilson and freshman second baseman Ethan Chalfant in the top of the seventh to take a 10-8 lead.
"It was tough to go up and lay off pitches because not a lot of balls were coming over the plate," said Greg Wilson, whose team took advantage of three walks and a hit batter in the seventh to wrestle the lead away from Heath. "I had one thing on my mind and that was the go-ahead run was on third. I was really nervous. I knew I could get a hit and I knew I would get a pitch to hit."
Senior third baseman Jerrad Carr had two doubles and four RBI to lead the Vikings, who improved to 20-10 after defeating Cincinnati Summit Country Day 1-0 on May 30 in a regional semifinal in Xenia.
"It was awesome to be able to rewrite the Northridge record book," Carr said. "We had been (down late in the game) before and we knew we would fight to the end. We knew we could come back."
The Vikings took advantage of nine walks and three hit batters to twice rally from deficits. They trailed 3-1 entering the fifth but scored five times to take a 6-3 lead, highlighted by Carr's three-run double and a two-run single by sophomore outfielder Clayton Nicks.
The 13th-seeded Bulldogs, who finished 16-14, answered with five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take an 8-6 lead.
Ross Wilson pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief to get the victory. He gave up a run on two hits and had two strikeouts and a walk.
Senior infielder Storm Strout reached base three times -- on a walk, an error and a hit-by-pitch.
"I believe we are just getting started," said Strout, who gave up three unearned runs in 2 2/3 innings as the starting pitcher. "We can't allow ourselves to be satisfied (with a district title)."
Girls track athletes reach regional meet
Senior Hannah Shank was second in the 300-meter hurdles (48.26 seconds) and junior Haley Menix was second in the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches) to lead the girls track and field team in the Division II, district 2 meet May 21, 22 and 25 at Westerville South.
The top four in each event advanced to regional May 30 and June 1 at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. The top four in each regional event advanced to the state meet Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8, at Ohio State.
On May 30, Menix finished sixth at regional in the high jump (5-1).
Also at district, senior Caitlyn Tulloss was third in the 400 (program-record 1:00.21) and sophomore Ellie Shedloski was third in the long jump (15-11).
The 800 relay of Menix, Shedloski, Tulloss and Shank was third in 1:49.31.
"We had some great performances, especially by the 'Big Four,' who said they would rather be called the 'Fab Four,'" coach Jeff Dingess said. "I told them it was too late for that.
"Caitlyn had her record in the 400 and the (800 relay) did a great job. They dropped 1.3 seconds off of their best time, but are eight-tenths of a second off the school record."
The girls finished fifth (46) of 13 teams in district 2 behind champion Eastmoor Academy (144).
"Finishing fifth at district was great," Dingess said. "We finished ahead of some big-name schools like Beechcroft and Jonathan Alder."
Just missing a trip to regional was sophomore Belinda Marcum, who was fifth in the discus (83-9). Shank also was fifth in the 100 hurdles (17.09) and Shedloski was fifth in the 100 (13.11).
The boys did not score in the district 2 meet won by Caledonia River Valley (128).
Senior Nathan Wigal was ninth in the 1,600 (4:53.83) and 3,200 (10:46.55). Senior Tony Shore was ninth in the 200 (23.72) and senior Kyle Wilbur was ninth in the 400 (54.26).
MBC title highlights softball season
The softball team finished 21-6 overall after losing to 16th-seeded and eventual district champion Ready 4-0 on May 15 in the second round of the Division III district tournament. The third-seeded Vikings had a first-round bye.
Northridge won its third MBC title in four seasons, going 13-1 to finish ahead of Loudonville (9-5), Johnstown-Monroe (8-6), Centerburg (7-7), Utica (6-8), Danville (5-9), East Knox (5-9) and Fredericktown (3-11).
"They fought all year long; that's one thing I can say about these girls," said Bobbi Jones, who completed her second season and was named MBC Coach of the Year. "I'm very proud of them."
Senior pitcher Kassi Davison was MBC Player of the Year, going 14-3 with 165 strikeouts, 27 walks and a 1.70 ERA in 123 innings.
Senior outfielder Taylor Mann (.408 batting average), sophomore third baseman Megan Hatfield (.371, 4 home runs) and freshman first baseman/pitcher Tori Hart (.447, 5 homers) also were first team all-league.
Juniors Courtney Legg (RF) and Courtney Mann (C) were second-team all-league and sophomore Mikaela Pankuch (2B) was honorable mention in the MBC.
The Vikings had three seniors in Davison and outfielders Faith Hiser and Taylor Mann.
"They all brought something different to the team," Jones said. "Taylor was more of a vocal leader and Kassi led with her play on the field.
"Faith came up with the crucial plays when we needed them. She didn't strike out much and was getting key hits and laying down sacrifice bunts. We will have some big shoes to fill next year."
Also expected to return are junior Heidi Wolfe (OF) and freshman Savannah Legg (SS).