By: Will Trubshaw
Bloomington, Ill. – July 24, 2019 – Wednesday’s game could be best described as a Jekyll and Hyde performance for the ages, and in a way a microcosm of the season to this point for the Vikings.
After staking themselves to an 8-0 lead, sloppy play opened the door for a Bloomington Bobcats comeback that resulted in a 9-8 victory, the second straight walk off loss for the Vikings against the Bobcats.
The loss officially dropped the Vikings out of first place, where they had resided as outright leaders or in a tie for first since June 26th.
“If you punch someone in the face early you can’t expect them to just stay down and not come back and punch you in the face back. And that’s exactly what happened today,” said skipper Dave Letourneau. “They shoved it down our throat. They came back and competed. We didn’t.”
The compete was there in spades in the early innings of the game, with the Vikings looking close to their early June selves through the first 5 ½ innings. Justin Rios (NCC/Lemont, Ill.) mowed batters down on the mound, and the defense behind him was just a solid, turning a couple double plays in the process.
Offensively, the Vikings returned to the line drive approach and had almost immediate success, scoring four runs in the first on Kellen Quigley (Webster U/Bolingbrook, Ill.), Anthony Rios (Lewis U/Lemont, Ill.) and Billy Curtis singles plus a Jake Schroeder (NIU/Flossmoor, Ill.) sac fly.
Quigley and Anthony Rios struck again in the second to expand the Vikings lead to 6-0. Two more runs would come across in the top of the sixth to put the Vikings at their high-water mark of 8-0.
The wheels started to come off in the bottom half of the inning, as errors by Dashon Moore (U of I Springfield/South Holland, Ill.) and Michael Marseille (Lake Land College/Chicago Heights, Ill.) led to three runs, all unearned.
“We did everything to allow them to come back and beat us. We gave them the game,” Letourneau said.
In the seventh the Bobcats got one more back to make it an 8-4 game. And by the eighth the script was completely flipped. With Rios still out pitching, the bases were loaded and with one out a would-be double play ball took a crazy hop over Quigley’s head to score the Bobcats fifth run of the game. Rios was then lifted for Mike Tobin (Concordia Chicago/Hickory Hills, Ill.), but a double and sacrifice fly pushed in three runs to tie the game at 8-8.
Though there was still another inning to be played, plus the potential for extra innings, it felt somewhat inevitable that Bobcats would find a way to steal the game away for good. Perhaps a punishment from the baseball gods for the Vikings getting a little too cocky with an eight-run lead. “We said some things… and they answered it. They didn’t say one word back and they played their game and they came back and beat us,” Letourneau said.
The comeback was completed on a two out shot in to the gap in left center that scored Will Oberg to end the game.
For the second night in a row the Vikings let things slip away late, but undoubtedly blowing an 8-0 lead stings more than anything else right now for a team that will have to move on quickly. They return to Crestwood to play the Panthers for the second time in three days.
A Panthers team that was victorious Tuesday against the Vikings and is playing with house money as the lone team not in the playoff race in the MCL, now is the time when they can play spoiler.
The Vikings meanwhile will be feeling the pressure of a tight playoff race and the repercussions if they continue their downward trend. In need of some wins in a hurry to right the ship, they will need Dr. Jekyll to show his face the rest of the way.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. from Howie Minas Field, with Will Trubshaw joining Jon Zaghloul on the Crestwood Panthers Broadcast Network.
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