By: Jack Theil
Hammond, Ind. - July 14, 2020 - The Vikings saw themselves for the first time not in first place on Tuesday. With a loss in Monday’s game, the Vikings hosted the Crestwood Panthers in a back and forth matchup. The last time these two teams faced, it’d take a walk-off from the Vikings to win. Tuesday afternoon’s game between the two would be no different. Back and forth the game went and the Vikings saw themselves victorious 9-8.
The Panthers started the first inning with a bang. After a single and two walks, a fielder's choice and a passed ball, the Panthers saw themselves go up early 2-0.
Going into the bottom of the third the Vikings were down 2-0 looking for a change in momentum. Dane Thomas (Wright State/Chicago, Ill.) and Dylan Robertson (Iowa Western/Downers Grove, Ill.) singled back to back to put runners in scoring position. Kellen Quigley (Webster/Bolingbrook, Ill.) singled to right scoring Thomas to make the game 2-1. Robertson used a passed ball to advance safely to home tying the game at 2-2. The MCL RBI leader Justin Rios (North Central/Lemont, Ill.) added on to his RBI total with a double scoring Quigley giving the Vikings a 3-2 lead.
The Vikings sought for insurance runs and found them at the bottom of the fourth. Luke Napleton (Quincy/La Grange, Ill.) reached by error with two outs starting a Viking rally. After a Thomas walk, Robertson delivered with a big at-bat doubling to center, scoring Napleton and Thomas to extend the lead to 5-2.
“I was seeing it well in the beginning, trying to drive the ball the other way, and staying back,” Robertson said. “I know I have to make the most of it, never really know if I’m in or not coming to the game. It’s a great feeling coach can put me into key situations and have trust in me.”
Quigley singled for his second straight at-bat setting up Dashon Moore (Illinois-Springfield/South Holland, Ill.) for a huge opportunity. Moore lined the ball to the left-field fence scoring Robertson and Quigley making it 7-2 Vikings.
Crestwood came right back with their own onslaught of runs in the top of the fifth. The Panthers would put up four runs matching the Vikings four-run inning making it 7-6 Vikings. The Panthers came right back with two more runs in the top of the seventh and taking the lead 8-7 Panthers.
“Stay with it, we’ve been in this situation a couple of times this year, it hasn’t gone our way as of late and it’s in the back of the mind that’ll happen again,” Vikings manager Dave Letourneau said. “We stuck with it, I thought we did a really good job at the plate in the later innings. Especially when they took the lead, you just have to bounce back.”
The Vikings came back with their own run. After an Anthony Rios (Lewis/Lemont, Ill.) double and a Logan Anderson (South Suburban/Frankfort, Ill.) groundout. The game found itself tied again at 8-8.
Letourneau went to his bullpen to shut things down and keep the game still for the Vikings. Jacob Kampf (Heartland/Lockport, Ill.) entered in the eighth inning and shut down the Panthers going one two three in the inning to keep the game tied.
After Quigley and J. Rios drew walks, A. Rios would come up to the plate with runners on the first second. A. Rios lined to left field scoring Quigley and having the Vikings take a 9-8 lead in the bottom of the eighth.
“I've been trying to see pitches early in the count, see pitches that are elevated, and do damage to them,” Rios said. “I’m just trying to do my job, belief in my approach, get something I can hammer. Luckily I got a pitch that I could hammer and luckily the run came in.”
Mike Tobin (Concordia/Palos Hills, Ill.) stepped on the mound with the lead going for his third save of the year. Tobin didn’t disappoint as he got three outs with ease and sent the Vikings home with their eighth win of the year.
“Tobin has been the guy for three years now and I knew if we took the lead in the eighth that Tobin would come in and close,” Letourneau said.
The Vikings next game will be Wednesday, July 15 as they face off against the Joliet Generals. The game will be at Dowling Park in Hammond, Ind. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. and you can watch the game on Southland Vikings Facebook page via Facebook Live. Jack Theil alongside Alex Coil will have the call for the game.
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