Mar 31st, 2010 @ 10:24 am | Author: By Ryan Cunningham NewsDakota.com
Valley City--Call it a homecoming of sorts.
The term is usually saved for a football team, but its application to Tuesday's Viking baseball game with the University of Minnesota-Crookston is likely much more fitting.
The last time the Vikings played at Charlie Brown Memorial Baseball Field in Valley City was May 3rd, 2008, when they lost 13-4 to Minot State. Flooding last year forced the cancellation of the season four days before the home opener with Presentation College.
Even the torrid schedule of playing four games in Rapid City Sunday and Monday, combined with a nine-hour bus ride home, can dampen the importance of this game, according to Viking head coach Casey Olney.
"Our guys are excited. I don't think all the games and the trip will affect us. The guys will be jacked up to be at home and on the field," said Olney.
The Vikings are hoping the home field will make an impact on their season, since they have really been struggling everywhere else. The Vikings have lost 12 of their last 13 games, behind shaky defense that surrendered 12 unearned runs in a doubleheader Sunday.
"The errors are coming at key times," says Olney. "They all seem to happen at once, and everyone has gotten into the act. I thought we'd be a solid defensive team, and we have some work to do."
While defense has been an issue, the offense has been clicking early, sparked by first baseman Cory Arnason (Sr., Airdrie, AB, pictured right). After a 13-18 performance at the plate, Arnason was leading the nation in hitting going into the weekend in Rapid City, with a .600 average.
If the Vikings are struggling, the Golden Eagles of the University of Minnesota-Crookston are, perhaps, a click or two below struggling. Entering play Tuesday, the Golden Eagles have lost 15 straight games, including 27-0 loss to St. Cloud State and a 24-0 loss to Winona State.
The Golden Eagles are led by middle-infielder Devin Croal (So., Coon Rapids, MN, pictured left), who is hitting .327 with a homer and six RBI.
Gametime is set for 4:00 p.m. at Charlie Brown in Valley City. The Vikings play at Dakota State to start Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC) play this Friday and Saturday.