Vikings messy but overcome seven-run deficit against Merced


Aaron Tolentino

Third baseman Nick Simmons at the plate against Merced at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill on Feb. 20, 2018. Simmons contributed with two hits, but also was thrown in to pitch and close the ninth inning to seal victory for the Vikings.

Aaron Tolentino, Sports editor

Down 7-0 in the fifth inning, the Diablo Valley College Vikings erased a huge deficit and completed their largest comeback win of the year by a final score of 8-7 against the College of Merced Tuesday afternoon.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Vikings got the victory. They committed three errors to give up three unearned runs and made a couple of key outs running the bases. Nonetheless, a ton of resiliency was displayed to overcome these mental errors.

“They showed some resiliency and battled back which is the big thing,” said head coach Steve Ward. “We can hit but starting pitching was bad; we didn’t play particularly good defense; we didn’t run the bases particularly well.”

The Vikings made their splash in the fifth and seventh innings. A five-run fifth brought life back in the Viking dugout and a huge momentum shift in their favor.

Merced did commit four errors of their own, including two that led to two runs for the Vikings in the fifth, but the Vikings did capitalize on Merced’s mistakes.

Down by two headed into the seventh, then came the seventh inning rally, a rally that started with a leadoff single by third baseman Nick Simmons.

Right after, second baseman Isaq Lewis contributed with a hit of his own and eventually came around to score the game-tying run. A total of three runs came on three hits and a costly Merced fielding error to put the Vikings up for good.

“I just like the team spirit,” said Lewis. “We just never gave up even though we were down six in the second. We all just rallied together and just played good baseball.”

In many of these comebacks from large deficits, a lot of recognition is given to the offense, which is rightly so. However, the work that reliever Mike Manley put in to prevent the seven-run deficit from growing any further cannot be overlooked. Out of the bullpen, Manley went 5 1/3 innings, gave up no earned runs and struck out seven.

“Confidence was the key knowing that my boys got my back,” said Manley. “When you see your guys fighting for you, you gotta fight for them too.”

As crazy enough this game was with all the errors and momentum shifts coming from both sides, the ending summed up a crazy, ugly game for the Vikings. Ward did whatever it took to win, including pulling Simmons from third base to the pitcher’s mound to close the game.

A surprised Simmons was impressive considering the circumstance. He had never pitched all year and he inherited a stressful situation with the game-tying run at third with only one out but still managed to seal the victory.

“There was no way,” said Simmons on whether or not he thought he would pitch coming into the game. “I didn’t think about it. As soon as we went ahead in the eighth, I was thinking I might ‘cause they got me up in the (bullpen) a couple times before, but it was a good first appearance on the mound.”

It’s unusual to have your starting third baseman pitch the ninth, but there was nothing sexy about this game except the big ‘W’ that shows up on the record.

“There’s no denying it was ugly, but I don’t care, at the end of the day, we either win or lose and we won,” said Ward.