By: Will Trubshaw
Whiting, Ind. – June 8, 2019 - More often than not, when the Southland Vikings and Northwest Indiana Oilmen get together, exciting theater follows. Saturday evening proved no different, as the Vikings won 4-3 in 12 innings.
The victory was the second in a row for the Vikings who, after not playing since Wednesday, improved to 2-3 on the season. For the Oilmen (3-4), the loss was their third straight as they fell below .500 for the first time since starting the season 0-1.
The Oilmen had been plagued by error troubles their last two games and dealt with even more in the first, and the Vikings were able to take advantage scoring two runs on three errors, and strangely enough no hits.
The Oilmen would get one back on a Joe Rycerz sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the first. From there, a pitching duel would ensue as Southland’s Jaime Prieto (Kishwaukee College) and the Oilmen’s Justin Ruthrauff mowed down batter after batter.
Prieto was the first to have is night end, after allowing two runs (one earned) in the fifth that would put the Oilmen in front 3-2. Ruthrauff would last into the sixth, allowing just 1 hit and no earned runs to go with three walks.
It would be the bullpens, however, that would ultimately decide the fate of the game, and the Vikings’ once again stood tall when they were needed most.
“Our pitching kept us in the game. It was a pitching win, there’s no doubt about it,” said Manager Dave Letourneau.
The offense came to life just in time, as a Dashon Moore (University of Illinois-Springfield) single and Justin Rios (North Central College) double set the table for a run scoring sacrifice fly from Anthony Rios (Lewis University) to knot the game at 3-3 in the eighth inning.
Each team would have chances to tack on in the ninth but Mike Tobin (Concordia University Chicago) and Brandon Laux would shut the door for their respective teams. Tobin was especially good for the Vikings, going four innings and allowing just three hits before handing it off to Justin Rios to finish off the 11th.
Rios, who had been playing in center field, remained in to bat for the 12th after recording the final two outs of the 11th. A bloop single off Rios’s bat was all it took to score Kyel Alexander (Moraine Valley Community College) from second and put the Vikings back in front 4-3.
For a struggling offense all night, attacking the fastball became Letourneau’s key to finally squeezing out the winning run.
“You’ve got to go up there thinking fastball and adjust to the off-speed,” Letourneau. “I think finally, we did that, and we got back to our baseball.”
In the bottom of the 12th, Trey Ricko (University of Tennessee-Martin) came in to shut the door and did just that. After walking the leadoff man, Ricko responded with back to back strikeouts and a harmless liner to left that sealed the deal.
With high school and college seasons finally wrapped up, the Vikings will try and build on their positive momentum with a busy slate of six games in the next seven days. The Vikings start their week tomorrow with a 1 p.m. matinee from Hap Bruno Field against the Bloomington Bobcats (6-2). Will Trubshaw will be on the call for the Southland Vikings Broadcast Network via Facebook Live.
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