Sports

25 years later, Vikings get a rematch

ENUMCLAW — It’s 7 p.m. on a spring evening in 1987 and the regional playoff between the North Kitsap Vikings and the Burlington-Edison Tigers is delayed.

It’s not delayed because of weather, but because of a three-hour game preceding.

Finally, at 9:30 p.m., the Vikings and Tigers step onto the field for what would be  more than four hours of baseball.

The game ends at 2 a.m. when a Viking batter is thrown out at first base.

Virgil Taylor, the Vikings head coach at the time, said he believes the batter was safe. The referee called the batter out.

“They got us by one run on a controversial call,” Taylor said Tuesday. Still, there’s no bad blood between anyone afterward.

The Vikings would win the state title in 1988. But 1987 was the last time the Vikings and Tigers faced each other in the regional tournament.

Twenty-five years later, the Vikings and Tigers face each other again in the regional tournament. It shouldn’t be such a late game.

The first round of the regional tournament, which leads to State, begins Saturday. Sixteen teams are vying for a shot at the 2A state title. The Vikings and Tigers play at Joe Martin Stadium in Bellingham at 1 p.m. The field is located next to the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center, 1114 Potter St.

Viking head coach Jeff Weible hasn’t had the opportunity to scout the Tigers — he didn’t want to jinx his team in Districts. But he isn’t unfamiliar with the program. Weible was a sophomore on the varsity team when the Vikings lost to the Tigers in 1987. He was a catcher and No. 2 pitcher for the state championship team in 1988.

Now, following a long battle in the West Central District III tournament, Weible and the Vikings will look to tame the Tigers.

The Vikings earned their spot in Regionals after a three-game win streak May 12 and 14.

The wins followed a loss to Sumner May 9 — a win against Sumner would have guaranteed the Vikings a Regionals spot. Instead, the North Kitsap team took the hard road.

Weible said the team didn’t want to win the first game. “We wanted to make it real hard on ourselves,” he quipped.

But to come back and win against Foster (3-0), Lindbergh (9-1) and White River (11-4) shows what the Vikings can do on that baseball diamond.

“I’m real proud of the kids,” Weible said.

Following the loss to Sumner, the Vikings took it one game at a time.

After the district tournament and three games — two back-to-back May 12 — the Vikings took a day off on Tuesday to regroup and, for the players, work on homework. They were back on the field practicing Wednesday.

The team has had an “up-and-down” year, Weible said. However, the pitching has been solid. In the postseason, the Vikings have given up 10 runs.

Weible said Justin Straight threw well against Sumner, despite the loss. Andrew Urquhart had a solid game against Foster. Shane Crowell allowed one hit in the game against Lindbergh. And, although he didn’t have the best day, according to Weible, AJ Milyard battled through White River in a game that could have ended the Vikings’ season.

The offense, Weible said, can be sluggish. The team struggled a little against Foster. Weible told the Vikings to just keep fighting and something would happen.

At this point in the season, it’s really anybody’s guess on who takes the state title. Weible said it’s whatever team “get hot.” For example, the Kingston Buccaneers, who were fighting for a spot in Districts and then ended up winning the tournament for the first time in school history.

However, “[The Vikings] can beat anybody if they come here to play,” Weible said.

A win against the Tigers would put the Vikings up against either Archbishop Murphy or Interlake May 19.

The winners of Regionals travel to the state tournament May 25-26 at County Stadium in Yakima.

 

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