By: Jack Theil
Hammond, Ind. - July 16, 2020 - Vikings (9-3) faced another early deficit in Thursday’s contest against the MCL Minutemen (3-8). The Vikings, who won the first two contests between both teams, didn’t lead once on Thursday and it stayed that way throughout the game. The Minutemen cruised to a 9-4 win for their third win of the year.
The bats were hot right off the start for the Minutemen, recording four runs on two walks and four hits in the first inning making it 4-0 Minutemen. The Minutemen kept the momentum going with adding one more run in the top of the second after a two-out triple extending the lead to 5-0 Minutemen.
Southland responded right back in the bottom of the second with singles by Jake Schroeder (Northern Illinois/Flossmoor, Ill.), Chris McDevitt (Indiana State/Chicago, Ill.) and Billy Curtis (North Central/Lockport, Ill.) reached on base by an HBP, the Vikings had bases loaded with no outs. Stephen Insley (Moraine Valley/Chicago, Ill.) grounded into a fielder's choice, scoring Schroeder to make it 5-1 Vikings. Kellen Quigley (Webster/Bolingbrook, Ill.) singled to right field scoring McDevitt cutting the deficit to 5-2 Minutemen.
Jacob Goss (Illinois-Springfield/Plainfield, Ill.) who struggled in the first two innings, would be dominant for the rest of the game. Goss retired ten straight Minutemen batters completing his game with five innings, five runs, one strikeout.
“I told him he had to attack, he gets 2-1 or 3-0 and then he attacks and that’s when he’s good,” Vikings manager Dave Letourneau said. “I think he needs to attack early in the counts, don’t wait till 2-1 or 3-0 to attack, attack when the at-bat starts. When he doesn't attack until late in the count that’s why his pitch count goes up. He started to attack in every count after the second inning and that’s why he was successful from there on.”
The Vikings chipped more into the deficit in the bottom of the fifth. After an Anthony Rios (Lewis/Lemont, Ill.) walk, single by Schroeder and walk by McDevitt, the Vikings had the bases loaded with no outs. The Minutemen recorded two straight outs leaving Quigley at the plate with bases loaded and two outs. Quigley lined to left scoring A.Rios, recording his second RBI of the game making it 5-3 Minutemen.
“I just have been trying to hit the ball up hard up the middle,” Quigley said. “I was seeing the ball very well today so hopefully I can continue that and stay in the count going on from today.
Both teams were quiet in the sixth and seventh innings scoring no runs. The Minutemen got their much-needed insurance run in the eighth after a double play scoring one run extending the lead to 6-3 Minutemen.
Down by three, the Vikings needed runs to stay in the game. Quigley drew a leadoff walk and Dylan Robertson (Iowa Western/Downers Grove, Ill.) followed with a single. Dashon Moore (Illinois-Springfield/South Holland, Ill.) advanced both runners with a ground out to shortstop. Justin Rios (North Central/Lemont, Ill.) hit a sac fly scoring Quigley chipping at the deficit 6-4 Minutemen.
The Minutemen made sure they put the game away with three runs in the top of the ninth extending the lead to 9-4, making it an improbable comeback for the Vikings.
The Vikings made things interesting after walks by McDevitt and Quigley, and a single by Logan Anderson (South Suburban/Frankfort, Ill.) the Vikings had bases loaded with two outs. The Minutemen were able to get out of the inning without any runners scoring. The Vikings stranded 16 runners on base in Thursday’s game resulting in a 9-4 Minutemen win.
“You have to find a way, you have to put the ball in play, you have to help your team,” Letourneau said. “With guys in scoring position, it starts with putting the ball in play, putting the pressure on the defense. You can’t have guys striking out with bases loaded, those are runs left out there that could have won us the game and that’s just unacceptable.”
The Vikings start a three-game road trip on Friday, July 17 as they face off against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen at Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Ind. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. and you can watch the game on the NWI Oilmen Facebook page via Facebook Live. Brandon Vickery alongside Jack Theil will have the call for the game.
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