ST. PETERSBURG — Absolutely nothing seemed right before Northeast's home game against Pinellas Park. Rain pushed the game back a day, the temperature slid into the 40s, and the sparse crowd wore its latest winter gear.
It was football weather at a baseball game.
But as the first few innings unraveled Wednesday, the Vikings started doing things that made the chilly evening bearable to them. Warren Young and Jeremy Lopez hit doubles, Noel Thomas pitched decently, Northeast snatched a 3-0 lead, and its undefeated record looked sure to stretch for another night.
After a slight scare, it did. The Patriots rallied for one run in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth to take the lead. But the Vikings quieted Pinellas Park's bats and ignored the cold over the final three innings to retake the lead and post a 5-4 victory.
"Both teams seemed to want to give the game away," Northeast coach Ron Stanifer said. "But it was good to see us have to battle in a tight game and come out ahead."
After seizing control with a 3-0 lead through the first two innings, the Vikings (7-0) started to let things slip.
Northeast's offense was shut down as Pinellas Park pitcher Donny Norris started throwing more breaking balls to keep hitters off-balance. And the Patriots started getting clutch hits, the biggest coming on Andy Laughery's three-run home run in the fifth that put Pinellas Park ahead 4-3.
Then the Vikings showed some resolve, scoring in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game, then going ahead in the sixth when Tim Deacon reached on an error and came home on a single by Brent Brockman.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," Deacon said. "We knew we had to be ready to go to beat a good team like Pinellas Park. We now have two wins against them, and that helps a lot in the district."