Viking baseball continues hot start

Historic Kiger Stadium in Klamath falls was built in 1947 and is one of two all-wood baseball parks still standing in North America. Siuslaw played three games there last weekend. (Courtesy photo)

SHS goes 2-1 in Klamath Falls

March 22, 2022 — The Siuslaw baseball team continued its exciting start to the 2022 season when they traveled to Klamath Falls last weekend and won two of three games.

On Friday the team faced Mazama and fell 9-2. The next day, the Viks bounced back to sweep a doubleheader from Klamath Union, “mercy-ruling” the Pelicans in both games, 13-3 and 22-0.

All three games were played at historic Kiger Stadium which opened in 1948. The ballpark was originally built as a home for the Klamath Falls Gems, a farm team of the Philadelphia Phillies. Kiger is one of the two remaining all-wood stadiums still standing in North America.

Viking coach Tom Shinn played his youth baseball in the area and has fond memories of playing in this venerable old stadium. He specifically scheduled these games in hopes of giving his Viking team the chance to play in one of America’s last great old ballparks. Like all structures made of wood it will not stand forever.

“When I played baseball in high school and Babe Ruth, that type of stuff, we'd go play at Kiger Stadium,” said Shinn. “The place is a throwback to 1950s and 1960s baseball. It’s what baseball is all about. I tried to set these games up because I wanted to share my youth with these kids and give them the chance to play at a special place like Kiger.”

The first game at Kiger, on March 18 was against another group of Vikings, these ones from Mazama.

Maybe from the long bus trip from Florence the Vikings had a little trouble getting going to start the first game of the weekend. Mazama plated three runs in the first and two in the second and before Siuslaw knew what hit them, they were down five runs.

Junior Victor Ayala got the Vikings first hit in the fifth inning. Senior Beau Erickson had SHS’s only other hit and also drove in a run. Siuslaw lost 9-2.

The highlight of the Mazama game was probably the work on the mound of freshman Joel Sissel, making his high school pitching debut. Sissel came in with two outs in the fourth and proceeded to strike out all four batters he faced.

Teammate and brother, junior Ian Sissel, was impressed.

“My brother [Joel] had a really good pitching debut against Mazama,” said Ian. “Even though we lost the game I was glad to see him pitch so well. He struck out four guys in like 25 pitches.”

Saturday was a different story for the Viks.

Things looked good from the beginning of game one of the doubleheader versus Klamath Union. In the first inning Erickson stole home for the Vikings to score their first run to make it 1-0. The Pelicans responded with two of their own in the bottom of the second to make it 2-1 but that would be the last time Siuslaw was down all day.

The floodgates opened in the fourth for the Viks when they scored five runs, then six more in the fourth. It was 13-3 after the fifth. When Klamath Union failed to score in the bottom of the fifth the game was called two innings early, as the visitors from Florence led by 10 runs putting the “mercy rule” into effect, the first time SHS has “mercy-ruled” a team since 2018.

The statistical highlights were many for the Siuslaw. Senior Isaac Garza went 2 for 3 with a run. Ian Sissel was also 2 for 3 with a triple and also scored three times and drove in three. Junior Ethan Halpin continued his hot start going 2 for 3 at the plate with 2 RBI.

Freshman Max Reynolds also scored two runs for the Vikings in his varsity debut.

Game two of the doubleheader was all Siuslaw from the start.

The Vikings scored five runs in the first, seven in the second and ten more in the third. It was 22-0 when the game was called after three innings marking the second straight game stopped early because of the thumping Siuslaw was giving their opponent.

The last time the Vikings scored twenty runs in a game was 2014 when they beat Creswell 21-1.

According to Ian Sissel, things could have been worse for the Pelicans except for the fact that it wasn’t that long ago that Siuslaw was on the other end of such drubbings and remembered what it felt like.

“We’ve been there,” said Ian. “We decided to go easy on them. No one likes to get blown out like that and honestly once you’ve scored enough it doesn’t feel really good to blow someone out. We used it as an opportunity to show our team’s character.”

Halpin had another great performance for Siuslaw. On the mound he threw the three-inning complete game, only giving up one hit and one walk while striking out five. At the plate he was 1 for 3 and scored 2 runs. Halpin has, unquestionably, had the hottest bat for the Viks so far this year, hitting .438 through the first five games of the season.

Garza was 2 for 4 with 3 runs and 3 RBI. He’s batting .412 and is tied with Ian Sissel with 7 runs scored this season. Ian scored 3 times in this game and also had 3 stolen bases.

The Vikings home opener is next. This Friday, March 25 Siuslaw hosts Coquille for a doubleheader. First pitch of game one is at noon.