By: Will Trubshaw
Midlothian, Ill. – July 10, 2019 - With a feel-good win on Monday, it seemed like the Vikings found a way out of the slump they were mired in.
That did not prove to be the case as many of the same issues arose for the Vikings in an ugly 9-2 defeat at the hands of the last place Crestwood Panthers.
The game was played at Howie Minas Field, but counted as a home game for the Vikings, who will not be able to return to Hap Bruno for the foreseeable future because of unplayable field conditions. In the end it felt like anything but a home field advantage.
For the Vikings, who lost in a 14-6 blowout to the Oilmen this past Saturday, the loss to the Panthers felt worse. The Vikings mustered just two runs and three hits, all coming in the fourth inning, while the Panthers battered around the Vikings pitching for 15 hits and 9 runs in seven innings.
Zach Litke (Concordia Chicago/Oak Lawn, Ill.) got the start for the Vikings, but could not reprise his efforts from a week ago when he shut the Panthers out. In the first inning alone, he gave up 4 runs while allowing eight batters to come to the plate.
The inning, which featured more sloppiness by the Vikings in the field, seemed to take the wind out of their sails. After the game Dave Letourneau did not mince his words when trying to analyze what went wrong.
“4-0 game, game was over. I could sense it in the field, I could sense it in their at-bats,” Letourneau said. “There’s just no compete level right now. There’s nobody working hard like we did early in the season.”
The Panthers continued the offensive onslaught, by scoring 2 runs in the third and 1 in the fourth. The Vikings scored two on a Justin Rios (North Central College/Lemont, Ill.) singled in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to a 7-2 advantage for Crestwood but squandered a chance to do more damage as the Panthers retired the side after Rios’s hit.
The Panthers then scored twice more in the fifth to regain their seven-run lead, staking themselves to a 9-2 lead that would stand for the rest of the game.
“Crestwood, hats off to them. They played a hell of a game,” Letourneau said. They pounded the baseball one through nine. They came out and they owned us.”
The loss was the Vikings’ first to Crestwood this year and marked their fourth loss in their last five games. Though still in first place, injuries and absences have started to take a physical and mental toll as the Vikings limp towards the All-Star break.
“If you don’t come mentally prepared to play, that’s gonna happen. It’s a mental game and it’s a grind this summer. If you don’t bring 100% mentality to a baseball game, you’ve got no shot,” Letourneau said.
Letourneau hopes that Wednesday’s loss will serve as a wake-up call for his club, who now sit at 16-9 on the season. They will face two more tall tasks before the All-Star game Saturday, as they travel to Lemont to take the Hounds again Thursday, before heading north to take on the Oilmen from Whiting on Friday.
Thursday’s game with DuPage County is scheduled for a 5 p.m. first pitch. The Vikings have found their only success of late in Lemont, as a win would be their third in six days against the Hounds. Will Trubshaw will have the call on the Southland Vikings Broadcast Network.
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