The temperature may have been cold Thursday night, but the Fort Walton Beach bats were not.
The Fort Walton Vikings hammered out 11 hits to blast the James Clemens Jets of Madison, Alabama, 9-2 in varsity baseball action at Daniel Bohannon Field.
Senior Viking Justice Lucas led the bats with a solo home run and a couple singles. Lucas’ home run shot came in the bottom of the fifth.
“It was a high curve ball,” Lucas said, noting it was his first homer of the season.
When asked if he thought it was gone when he made contact he said, “No I didn’t … I was running.”
His sprint soon turned into a jog as it cleared the left centerfield fence. Not long after he was greeted by his teammates who were coming out of the dugout.
Lucas wasn’t the only Viking with multiple hits. Sophomore Griffin Wilbur connected for three singles and two RBIs. Tobias Ward-Boulden and Karsun Barrett each hit two singles for an RBI. Collecting one hit each were Waylon Steele, Adam Anderson and Hayden Hubbard.
“We don’t have a roster full of D-1 prospects, but we’ve got a roster full of kids that are starting to see that if we play the Viking brand of baseball, which is getting a good effort on the bump and we put balls in play and make the other teams make plays on us, then we’ve got a shot to be competitive,” said Fort Walton Beach Coach Brian McDaniel.
Not only did the Vikings get the job done at the plate, but on defense as well.
Junior pitcher Karsun Barrett pitched the first 5 1/3 innings, faced 23 batters, struck out seven, walked five and gave up two hits. Ward-Boulden came in and finished up, facing seven batters, striking out two and giving up one hit.
“That’s two outings in a row where Karsun has been dominant,” McDaniel said. “That’s the guy that we thought he was going to be and he’s developing into that guy on a consistent basis, which is great.”
In the first inning, Barrett sat the Jets down quickly on two strikeouts and a pop fly to right fielder Anderson.
Fort Walton got on the board in the bottom half with two runs on four consecutive singles from Steele, Lucas, Ward-Boulden and Wilbur.
In the top of the second, Fort Walton’s Alex Holz made a couple of catches for outs and Barrett struck out the other Jet.
The Vikings added one more in the bottom half. Hubbard singled and Robbie Leach, pinch running for Hubbard, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. He eventually scored on a single to right center by Barrett.
In the top of the third, the Jets scored two unearned runs. With one out, Austin McGhee was hit by a pitch and Tommy Crider walked. Zach Hopkins reached on an error to load the bases. Up next, Collin Brown singled to left to bring in the two runs. Steele snagged a line drive shot for the second out and then Barrett picked off Hopkins at third for the final out.
Fort Walton rallied the bats in the bottom half, batting through the lineup. Lucas, Wilbur and Barrett each got hits with four runs scoring for a 7-2 lead.
The Vikings finished up the game with one run in the fourth on three hits and then Lucas’ home-run bomb in the fifth.
“We’re putting the ball in play … and we’re at 500,” McDaniel said, noting that’s a place the Vikings haven’t been in awhile.
The Vikings went head-to-head with the Jets again Friday evening; those results were not available at press time.
The Vikings will host county-rival Niceville on Monday at 7 p.m. at Daniel Bohannon Field.