By: Will Trubshaw
When the wind blows out at Hap Bruno, strange things tend to happen. Tuesday was no different as a make-up game from May 30 turned into a ten-inning shootout between the Vikings and Joliet Generals, with Joliet ultimately scraping by with the one run victory, 15-14.
With favorable conditions, both offenses were able to string together multiple offensive rallies that ultimately resulted in six combined lead changes for both teams. However, it was a five run tenth that allowed the Generals to hang on for good, in spite of a furious two out rally in the bottom half by the Vikings.
“As soon as I got out of the car.... I knew that today was going to be a day that the ball could go out, and it could be one of those offensive days,” said Manager Dave Letourneau.
In the first inning, The Vikings responded to the Generals’ early lead with a Jake Schroeder (NIU/Flossmoor, Ill.) bases clearing double to take a 3-1 lead. The Generals added another run in the second, but Schroeder would double in Justin Rios in the third for his fourth RBI of the game to give the Vikings a 4-2 advantage.
After a couple of one out walks from starter Christian Bolhuis (Wheaton College/Oak Lawn, Ill.), Joliet used a couple of singles and a sacrifice fly to catapult themselves to a 5-4 lead in the fourth. Bolhuis and the rest of the staff struggled with free passes, issuing 10 total to the Generals.
“We were not good on the mound. We walked too many guys. You can’t walk guys in general, but you can’t walk guys on an offensive day,” Letourneau said. “I thought it was one of those days where are pitching wasn’t good one through nine, which is where we’ve been good.”
The offense would come to the rescue once again for the Vikings, as an Anthony Rios (Lewis University/Lemont, Ill.) two out double scored two and put the Vikings right back in front 6-5. Joe Curci’s (RPI/Chicago, Ill.) single an inning later put the Vikings up 7-5.
The lead would not last much longer, as the Generals ambushed Mike Tobin (Concordia University/Hickory Hills, Ill.) for three runs in the sixth to go up 8-7.
Joliet tacked on an insurance run off of Mike Rios (Calumet College of St. Joseph) in the eighth to go up 9-7, and seemed to be on solid ground heading in to the latter stages of the game.
The resilient Vikings responded with the heart of their order loading the bases and scoring a run on a walk to PJ Raines (Santa Rosa JC/Chicago, Ill.). Two batters later, pinch hitter Steve Insley (Moraine Valley CC/Chicago, Ill.) would deliver the clutch go ahead RBIs to put the Vikings in front 10-9 going into the ninth.
The Vikings pitching struggles could not be negated by Trey Ricko (UT-Martin/Plainfield, Ill.), as he allowed the tying run to score in the ninth. And after Justin Rios (North Central College/Lemont, Ill.) barely missed a walk off home run, Ricko struggled mightily in the tenth, allowing five runs to score before even recording an out, as the Joliet lead ballooned to a 15-10 advantage.
In the bottom of the tenth, Southland recorded two quick outs before pinch hitters Drew Komendant (UW-Whitewater/Lemont, Ill.) and Daniel Brannigan (Dominican University/Lemont, Ill.) singled and Joe Egan (Loras College/Chicago, Ill.) reached on an error. With the bases loaded, Dashon Moore (U of I-Springfield/South Holland, Ill.) dropped a double into right center that cleared the bases and made it a two-run game. Then Max Malley (University of Evansville/Frankfort, Ill.) grounded a ball that was muffed by Joliet’s third basemen which scored Moore. However, as Malley rounded first trying to take an extra base, Generals pitcher Seth Quick intercepted a throw bound for home and got Malley into a pickle that put a dagger in the Vikings comeback chance for good.
The loss put the Vikings at 9-5 on the season, but at 8-2 in their last 10.
“It’s fitting that the last out of the game wasn’t an actual out, it was on the error or base hit, however you want to rule it. It’s just one of those things,” Letourneau said. Perhaps the best medicine for shaking off a difficult loss like this one, is getting right back on the field the next day.
“Tomorrow is a very important game. You have to use this loss here, get that win right back going into Joliet on Thursday,” Letourneau said.
The Vikings will have the chance to do that as they finish up their homestand Wednesday with a 5 p.m. game against the Crestwood Panthers. The matchup with the Panthers will be broadcast on the Southland Vikings Broadcast Network, via Facebook Live. Will Trubshaw will be joined by John Zaghloul for the call from Hap Bruno.
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