By: Will Trubshaw
Midlothian, Ill. – July 18, 2019 - It’s often said that the best remedy to a walk off loss is to notch two dozen hits and beat your opponent by 10 runs in the following game.
Well, maybe not that often, but it is exactly what the Vikings did on their way to a 21-11 win over the Crestwood Panthers Thursday night.
It was an offensive explosion as the teams combined for 41 hits (24 for the Vikings, 17 for Crestwood). For the Vikings (18-11) it was their largest offensive output of the season, and also their largest margin of victory to date.
The game, which lasted 3 hours and 51 minutes, featured lots of back and forth action, and was much closer than the final score indicated. The differentiating factor was an eight-run ninth inning by the Vikings to pull away for good.
“It’s one of those games where it’s not good defensively, pitching’s not good on both sides,” said manager Dave Letourneau. “It’s one of those games where you have got to hit, you have to outscore your opponent.”
The Panthers warmed to the task in a first inning that was all to0 similar to the one eight days ago, when the Panthers beat the Vikings 9-2. However Southland stopped the damage at two runs when starter Vic Aguilar (North Central College/Blue Island, Ill.) picked a man off first via a rundown. Dashon Moore (U of I Springfield/South Holland, Ill.) ultimately made the tag and threw home to nail another Panther and end the inning.
In the top half of the second, The Viking tied the game on an RBI Single from Logan Anderson (South Suburban/Chicago, Ill.), after Kellen Quigley (Webster University/Bolingbrook, Ill.) led the inning off with a triple. Jake Schroeder (NIU/Flossmoor, Ill.) announced his return to the lineup with a booming double that scored Anderson and knotted the game at 2-2.
In the third, the Vikings batted around to the tune of six runs, and an 8-2 lead, knocking the Panthers starting pitcher out in the process. Crestwood scored once in the third to make it 8-3, but a Schroeder double and Joe Egan (Loras College/Chicago, Ill.) single in the 4th helped tack on three more runs for a very healthy 11-3 lead.
The Vikings lead wasn’t safe ultimately, as the Panthers scored three times in the fourth and fifth innings to make it an 11-9 game. Schroeder doubled again in the sixth to get one run back, and in the eighth Billy Curtis (Moraine Valley/Lockport, Ill.) drove in another run to push the Vikings lead to four.
The Panthers responded with two more runs in the eight to make it a 13-11 game. With another close game entering the ninth inning the thought of somehow not doing enough to pull away, despite the 13 runs, crept in ever so slightly.
“We’re up 11-3, then all of a sudden its 11-8, then 13-9… it just got too close. But we didn’t do a good job of making some plays, we got to be better defensively,” said Letourneau.
The offense made sure that there could be no repeat of Tuesday’s loss to Bloomington, as they sent 12 men to the plate in the ninth, scoring eight of them. Anderson and Schroeder drove in three of the runs, and Justin Rios (North Central College/Lemont, Ill.) scored twice in the inning to help put the Vikings way in front for good with a 21-11 lead.
For the game, Schroeder and Anderson were both 5-for-6 with 5 RBIs a piece. Every Viking in the starting lineup reached base at least once, and eight different Vikings had at least one RBI. In the eyes of Letourneau however, it was Schroeder’s return from illness that sparked the rest of the offense.
“I think Jake’s the type of kid that a lot of kids feed off of. He comes back today and hits four doubles. Hitting is so contagious, so when guys drive the baseball, other guys drive the baseball. Getting him back after the last week and a half of him being sick is huge for our offense and it shows today,” Letourneau said.
While the win was not free of errors (three by the Vikings, seven overall) and mental mistakes, it was the first in a long time that felt like a resounding win, coming off a stretch of close calls that resulted in a 3-7 stretch dating back to July 5th.
The Vikings will now have Friday off as their game against the Oilmen was cancelled due to excessive heat. As of now, their next game is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. against the Hounds, though the status of that game is still up in the air. Should the game be played, it will be available on the Southland Vikings Broadcast Network. Will Trubshaw will have the call on Facebook Live.
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