By: Will Trubshaw
Joliet, Ill. – Aug 1, 2019 – At this point it’s not all that surprising to see some ridiculous offensive outputs when the Vikings and Joliet Generals get together.
The story was no different Thursday night, as the Vikings used a six run ninth to pull ahead and defeat the Joliet Generals 13-7.
It was another back and forth affair between the two teams that featured strong pitching overall, but it was overshadowed by offense the rest of the way.
Each team scored just a run in the first inning, but in the second the Vikings erupted for four runs. Michael Marseille (Lake Land College/Chicago Heights, Ill.) doubled with the bases full to score two of those runs, while Joe Egan’s (Loras College/Chicago, Ill.) groundout and Kellen Quigley’s (Webster University/Bolingbrook, Ill.) single helped put the Vikings up 5-1.
Vikings starter Zach Litke (Concordia Chicago/Oak Lawn, Ill.) allowed two unearned runs in the third as the Generals crawled back within two of Southland. On the day Litke allowed four runs total, but only one of those was an earned run.
The Vikings committed four errors in the game, and manager Dave Letourneau still sees it as an area that the Vikings can improve upon heading into the playoffs.
“If we are clean defensively, we will be ok and we will have a shot to win every single game, but we’ve got to clean it up,” Letourneau said. “We’ve got to be able to pick it, we’ve got to be able to throw it, we’ve got to be able to catch it.”
The Vikings were clean defensively the rest of Litke’s start, and in the seventh Joe Curci (RPI/Chicago, Ill.) notched two insurance runs on a two out bases loaded single.
With the lead at 7-4 the Vikings turned to their bullpen and Jaime Prieto (Kishwaukee College/Chicago, Ill.), making his first appearance since July 11th. Prieto allowed one run to score but was lifted with two outs in the inning in favor of Mike Tobin (Concordia Chicago/Hickory Hills, Ill.). Tobin recorded the final out of the seventh, but struggled with his command in the eighth, allowing the Generals to tie it at seven on Bryant Diel’s sacrifice fly.
“I know our pitching is taxed. Tobin, I’ve asked a lot out of him all year long. I’m going to try and really keep it easy with him this weekend,” Letourneau said.
The Vikings, with not much time left, wasted no time in taking the lead back. After a hit by pitch and walk to start the inning, Curci singled again to put the Vikings back in front by a score of 8-7.
The Vikings then became the benefactors of errors and passed balls. In fact, two runs scored thanks to wild pitches, and two more as a result of fielding errors on the generals. Jake Schroeder (NIU/Flossmoor, Ill.) also chipped in an RBI single as the Vikings took their largest lead of the game at 13-7.
Trey Ricko (UT-Martin/Plainfield, Ill.) came on came on for the bottom of the ninth and wasted no time in closing up shop, striking out the side to seal the Vikings 23rd victory of the season.
The win moved the Vikings, who have already clinched a playoff berth, within a half game of first place once again. With games throughout the weekend to wrap up the MCL regular season.
“We’ve just got to survive the weekend and be ready to roll on Tuesday,” Letourneau said.
The Vikings get right back at it Friday at 5 p.m. from St. Rita, hosting the Generals for the second day in a row, and hoping for a repeat of Thursday night’s performance. For those who can’t make it to the game at Mike Zunica field, it will be available on the Southland Vikings Broadcast Network, where Will Trubshaw will be joined by Sam Oppenheim of the Joliet Generals for the call.
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