By: Sam Oppenheim
Joliet, Ill. - August 1, 2019 - After trailing the entire game, the Joliet Generals scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at seven. However, the Southland Vikings scored six in the top of the ninth, and held on for a 13-7 win.
After trading runs in the first, the Vikings grabbed a healthy lead in the second on Generals starter Danny Wizceb (Triton College / Vernon Hills, Ill.). After a walk, an error and a single, Southland outfielder Mike Marseille doubled to score two. Marseille later scored in the inning as the Vikings jumped out in front 5-1.
Joliet responded in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally. Bryant Diel (Triton College / South Elgin, Ill.) reached second after an error by a Southland infielder. The next batter, Jack Ferraro (Triton College / LaGrange, Ill.), singled to score Diel before eventually coming home himself later in the inning.
The 5-3 score remained up until the bottom of the sixth, when the Generals made it a one run game.
Both starters settled in nicely during the middle innings. For Joliet, Wizceb scattered seven hits across six innings, giving up five runs. Only three of those were earned. His counterpart Zach Litke matched his performance, going six as well. Litke gave up eight hits and allowed four runs. Only one was earned. Both pitchers suffered from defensive issues, as the Vikings and Generals had four errors aside.
Southland added some insurance to their narrow lead in the next half inning, scoring two runs. But, Joliet kept chipping away. A run in the bottom of the seventh brought the Vikings lead back down to two. And then, the Generals comeback came into full swing. Nick McAlister (Southern Illinois / Homewood, Ill.) led off with a base hit. After an out and a walk, Will Krushena (Denison University / Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) singled to score McAlister and bring Joliet within one. Diel followed that up with a sacrifice fly to score Devin Buckner (USC Upstate / Lexington Ky.) and tie the game at seven.
Despite the momentum on their side, the Generals could not get outs in the ninth. Ben Lynam (Parkland College / Batavia, Ill.) walked or hit six batters and Southland scored a soul-crushing six runs in the inning. Lynam took the loss with six runs to his name, with five being earned.
Joliet was held scoreless in the bottom of the frame, and the Vikings nabbed an important 13-7 win. Generals manager Matt Vitulli knows this season would be different if Joliet’s command on the mound was improved.
“It would be a completely different story,” Vitulli said. “We’d be right up there in the playoff race.”
The Generals have a daunting path ahead in order to make the MCL Playoffs. With the Northwest Indiana Oilmen beating the DuPage County Hounds tonight, Joliet remains two games behind the Hounds with three games to go. NWI and DuPage meet twice more before the regular season ends.
Still, the Generals have to help themselves out, as they take the Vikings once again on Friday night. First pitch is at 5 p.m. from St. Rita High School. The game will be broadcasted on the Southland Vikings Broadcasting Network.
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