By: Will Trubshaw
Lemont, Ill. – July 11, 2019 – While nothing of late has been particularly enjoyable for the Vikings, they could at least find a reprieve from their slump in two wins against the DuPage County Hounds. Coming off a loss Wednesday in Midlothian, it seemed that for the third time in six days the Vikings might be able to rebound against the Hounds.
However, the Vikings’ Lemont lucky streak ran out as the Hounds bested them 5-3 on Thursday night.
While the Viking’s defense and pitching seemed to return to normal, the offense still seemed stagnant, with more mental gaffs and a continued inability to score with RISP hampering any momentum the Vikings could generate.
“You make mental errors in this game; you’re going to get rewarded with losses. It’s just that simple,” said manager Dave Letourneau.
The Hounds would strike first, notching a 2-run double of Vikings starter Jaime Prieto (Kishwaukee College/Chicago, Ill.) in the second inning.
In the fourth, the Vikings found a response when Anthony Rios (Lewis University/Lemont, Ill.) singled to lead off the inning. Max Malley (University of Evansville/Frankfort, Ill.) followed with a double into left field to score Rios. Malley got a little too greedy and was thrown out trying to turn his double into a triple.
While they did cut the lead in half, it felt simultaneously like a potential offensive rally was cut off prematurely in the process, as the Vikings went quietly the rest of the inning.
“We gave them an out, now all of a sudden we only score one and now you’ve got one out and nobody on, and now you have to restart,” Letourneau said. “We’re struggling getting guys on as is. That was our shot to maybe have a big inning, and it was cut short with that play.”
Letourneau turned to his bullpen from the third inning on, and they did a good job of limiting the Hounds and giving the Vikings offense room to operate. However, the Vikings would put on men in every inning from the 5th until the end of the game, and yet managed only two runs in that span.
The Hounds put up a three run sixth to distance themselves from the Vikings for good, going ahead 5-1.
The Vikings added their second run in the seventh when Kyel Alexander (Moraine Valley/Chicago, Ill.) scored on an error, making it a 5-2 score.
The Vikings then had two excellent opportunities to score in the eighth and ninth, when the first two batters reached in each inning, with nobody out. Those innings served as a microcosm for the Viking offensive struggles, as they managed to squeeze out just one run in the ninth.
The midseason slump that has taken hold of the Vikings has seen them now drop five of their last six contests while falling to 16-10 overall. With just one game remaining before the All-Star break, Letourneau believes that it will be a must-win game in the Vikings’ attempt to break the slump they are currently mired in.
“The best thing we can do is show up and play our best game and get that one win we haven’t gotten in a while, and somehow feed off that,” Letourneau said. “Tomorrow is a must-win for us. I never really use the words ‘must-win’ but tomorrow is a must-win the way things are going. We’ll feel good about ourselves going into the All-Star break with a win.”
The Vikings will play that must-win in Whiting, when they take on the surging Northwest Indiana Oilmen for their first half finale. Will Trubshaw will join Brandon Vickrey on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen Broadcast Network for the call. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. from Oil City Stadium.
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