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Sailing into the playoffs: Vikings take down Blossoms

HAYFIELD — The Hayfield Vikings have been sailing on smooth waters lately and that trend continued as the Vikings used two homers and some big defensive plays to beat Blooming Prairie 8-2 Thursday.

Hayfield, which has now won 11 straight, set the tone when it escaped trouble in the top of the first inning. BP had runners on second and third with just one out, but Hayfield pitcher Brady Nelson was able to force BP’s Karson Vigeland to fly out to right field, where Carter Kyllo made the catch and threw home to turn an inning ending double play.

Hayfield’s Mason Tapp is greeted at home plate by his teammates after hitting a two-run homer in the second inning in Hayfield Thursday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

“It was a big change,” said Hayfield freshman Easton Fritcher. “If he scores there, we could’ve started off in a slump and they would’ve had a big run in. That throw got us going and it was a big start to the game.”

Fritcher gave the Vikings (17-2 overall) a lift when he launched a solo homer in the fourth to put Hayfield up 7-2 right after BP’s Trent Swenson had doubled in two runs to make it 6-2 in the top of the fourth. Fritcher’s home run was preceded by a two run homer by senior Mason Tapp that made it 4-0 in the second inning.

“I didn’t think (Mason) had it in him. But he got it done,” Fritcher said. “He’s hit the ball pretty far to gaps, but that was the first one where we thought he had a chance. It was fun to see him finally get one after all of the hard work he’s put in.”

Payton Simon fires a pitch for Blooming Prairie in Hayfield Thursday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Nelson scattered eight hits in five innings to pick up the win for Hayfield and Luke Dudycha pitched two perfect innings to hold BP in check. Hayfield junior catcher Jake Risius, who was two-for-four, said the Vikings have been able to win 17 out of their last 18 games with a great attitude and tough pitching.

“We’ve had lots of positivity, lots of energy and we’re just here to have fun,” Risius said. “I like the fact that I can tell our pitchers were to throw the ball and they’re going to hit the spot every time. Brady is a great pitcher and he does a great job every time, Easton does a great job and Luke is a tall lefty who does his job just like anybody.”

Payton Simon took the loss for BP (6-11 overall).

The Vikings will close out the regular season when they host Maple River at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Hayfield has won a share of the Gopher Conference and if it beats Maple River, it will win the conference outright.

BP had a three-game winning streak snapped and it has two games remaining in the regular season.

Easton Fritcher lines a shot against Blooming Prairie in Hayfield Thursday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

BP 0 0 0  2 0 0  0    2    8  2

Hayfield 2 2 2  1 1 0  X    8  10  0

Hayfield pitching: Brady Nelson (W) 5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 4 K; Luke Dudycha, 2 iP, 0 R, 2 K

Hayfield hitting: Easton Fritcher, 1-for-3, HR, RBI, R, BB; Mason Tapp, 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBIs, 2 R, BB; Nelson, 2-for-4, double, RBI, R; Kolby Tapp, 1-for-2, double, R, HBP, BB; Jake Risius, 2-for-4, R; Patrick Towey, 0-for-4; Joey Tempel, 1-for-3; Carter Kyllo, 1-for-1, double, 2 RBIs, R, BB, SB; Karver Heydt, 0-for-3

Blooming Priarie’s Trent Swenson makes contact against the Vikings in Hayfield Thursday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

BP pitching: Payton Simon (L) 6 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 8 ER, 3 K

BP hitting: Colin Lerum, 1-for-3; Simon, 2-for-3; Luke Rennie, 1-for-4, R; Karson Vigeland, 1-for-3, R; Trent Swenson, 1-for-3, double, 2 RBIs; Alex Miller, 2-for-3, SB; Ian Wayne, 0-for-3; Luke Larkoski, 0-for-3; Tim Wolf, 0-for-2