Joliet, Ill. – Aug. 4, 2019 - The Vikings wrapped up their regular season Sunday at Joliet, and it was yet another game that featured many of the quirks that characterized so many of the matchups between these teams this season.
It could not deter the Vikings from winning once again, topping the Generals by a score of 5-3 for their fourth straight win to finish off the regular season and lock into second place in the MCL.
The season finale was condensed to just seven innings but saw two position players get starts toeing the rubber, pitchers have multiple at bats, and just about everyone available except the interns get a crack at seeing the field in a surprisingly close game.
“It’s amazing to me how these guys came out and pounded the zone and just really battled. It just shows what kind of competitor you are,” said manager Dave Letourneau.
With Logan Anderson (South Suburban/Chicago, Ill.) getting the start, he was staked to an early 1-0 lead when Kellen Quigley (Webster University/Bolingbrook, Ill.) hit a leadoff homer off Generals catcher-turned-pitcher Rocco Pascente.
The Generals struck in the third to tie the game at 1, but the Vikings would take the lead back in the next half inning with Justin Rios (NCC/Lemont, Ill.) scoring on an error by Joliet.
Anthony Rios (Lewis University/Lemont, Ill.) singled to put the Vikings up 3-1 in the sixth. Amazingly that was the only offense either team could muster against two position players pitching, adding another bizarre chapter to the Vikings-Generals saga.
“I was talking to (Joliet manager) Matt (Vitulli) before the game, and we were not sure what to expect. He had a position guy throwing, I had a position guy throwing and its 2-1 in the sixth,” Letourneau said.
In the seventh, the Vikings tacked on two insurance runs on just one hit in the inning. Billy Curtis (Moraine Valley/Lockport, Ill.) led off with a double, and would come around to score 5 batters later thanks to a bases loaded walk. Another run would come in to score via the walk to put the Vikings up 5-1.
The runs proved to be difference makers, as the Generals would score two off Curtis in the seventh to make it a 5-3 game. Ultimately Curtis induced a fly out to right to end the game.
The Vikings finished their regular season at 26-16, an impressive ten games over .500, and three wins better than last season. With wins in their last four games as well, it seems as though the Vikings are starting to peak at exactly the right time.
“We’re getting hot at the right time going in. That was my only concern, how we were going to finish going into the playoffs,” Letourneau said. “We’re the best we can be right now going into Tuesday.”
The Vikings open up their postseason Tuesday at home against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen from St. Rita, with first pitch at 4 p.m. Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be a 7:10 start from Oil City Stadium on Wednesday, and if necessary, Game 3 will be back at St. Rita on Thursday at 4 p.m.
All games can be found on the Southland Vikings and Northwest Indiana Oilmen Broadcasting Networks. Will Trubshaw will join Brandon Vickrey and the rest of the Oilmen broadcasting crew.