By: Will Trubshaw
Chicago Heights, Ill. – June 12, 2019 - Mother Nature has not been kind to the Vikings at Hap Bruno Field this year.
On Wednesday the Vikings (5-3) and the Crestwood Panthers (1-9) had their game end prematurely as heavy rains created unplayable field conditions, giving the Vikings a 7-3 victory in six innings.
It marked the second time this season that a Vikings game at Hap Bruno ended early because of weather. The other was an 8-6 loss to the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on June 1, 2019.
Logan Strutz went all six innings, allowing three runs on 4 hits while collecting the win, continuing a string of outstanding pitching from Vikings’ pitching during this 5-game win streak.
Opposing starter Ethan Soderna was equally impressive, as both pitchers allowed just three combined hits through the first four and a half innings.
“I think he (Soderna) did a really good of pounding the zone, getting ahead,” manager Dave Letourneau said. “Good thing that Logan was toe to toe with him.”
Finally, the offense came, and fast and furious at that, with Southland scoring 3 in the fifth. Crestwood scored three times in the top half of the sixth to tie it after a very brief rain delay, but the tie would not last for long as the Vikings put up a four-run bottom half of the sixth to put the game out of reach.
Joe Egan notched the go ahead tally in the sixth with a bases loaded 2-run double before the skies opened up and the contest was ended for good. Egan was more impressive in the field, making several spectacular grabs in right, and cashing in a run saving outfield assist.
On a Reggie Brock liner in the first inning, Egan fielded the ball in right on a hop and promptly launched a seed to catcher Jake Schroeder who caught the ball on a fly and tagged Nick Anderson out a few feet in front of home plate to prevent the game’s first run.
“A play like that in the first inning, where you make a big throw, it’s a huge momentum thing,” Letourneau said. “Logan was able to settle in after those two hits back to back, and obviously you saw the way cruised through five innings. Defensive plays go a long way.”
Despite a fifth win in a row and 7 runs in six innings, Letourneau still sees opportunities for improvement on offense as the Vikings head into weekend matchups with the Joliet Generals, DuPage Hounds and Oilmen.
“I still think we need to do a better job of attacking the fastball early in the count. We’re letting pitchers dictate the whole at-bat, and I think that’s where our struggles are right now,” Letourneau said.
The Vikings will get another crack at improving their approach at the plate when they take on the Generals Thursday for the first time this season. The three previously scheduled games against Joliet were all rained out.
First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. from Joliet Junior College as the Vikings look to make it six in a row. Will Trubshaw will join Sam Oppenheim for the broadcast on the Joliet Generals Facebook Live. The Southland Vikings’ Facebook page will share the stream once it goes live.
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