By: Jack Theil
Lansing, Ill. - August 8, 2020 - The Vikings (17-15) entering Saturday’s matchup on a two game losing streak, trying to stay above .500 on the year. The Crestwood Panthers (16-12), the hottest team in the MCL only 1.5 games back from second place which means they needed a win as well. Home runs by both teams, a ninth inning comeback from the Panthers, and extra innings baseball the Vikings escaped with a 9-6 win.
Both offenses were quiet in the first two innings, the Vikings started scoring runs in the third inning. With two outs in the inning, the Vikings started a two out rally with a Dylan Robertson (Iowa Western/Downers Grove, Ill.) double to left field. Nick McAlister (Southern Illinois/Homewood, Ill.) lined a ball to shortstop but an error allowed Robertson to score and McAlister reached first safely 1-0 Vikings. Matt Monahan (St. Xavier/New Lenox, Ill.) recorded his first extra base hit of the year wIth a double to right field advancing McAlister to third with two outs. McAlister scored on a passed ball extending the lead to 2-0.
Ryan Manikowksi (2-3) (Creighton/New Lenox, Ill.) started for the Vikings and controlled the game on the mound. Manikowski went through four innings with no runs but in the fifth the Panthers were able to score two runs and tie the game, 2-2. His day would be done after the fifth inning, giving up two runs, five hits, four strikeouts, and lowered his ERA to 5.34.
Tied at 2-2, the Vikings opened the game in the seventh inning. Bryan Broecker (Michigan State/Chicago, Ill.) hit his first home run of the year with a lead off solo shot to left field to take a 3-2 lead. After walks by Mike Tobin (Concordia/Palos Hills, Ill.) and McAlister, a single by Robertson loaded the bases with one out. Monahan lined a single down the right field line scoring Tobin and Robertson extending the lead to 5-2.
The Panthers didn’t go away just yet, a solo home run in the seventh inning and a two RBI double in the ninth inning tied the game up at 5-5 and the game would be heading to extra innings.
The Vikings 1-0 in extra innings created a momentum boost in the tenth inning. Per new rules, a runner is placed at second base to start the inning and that runner was Jason Reis (Illinois Wesleyan/Highland, Ind.). Line drive single by Daniel Barrios (St. Xavier/Peotone, Ill.) scored Reis and the Vikings took a late 6-5 lead. Tobin singled up the middle to center field, Barrios scored due to a throwing error by the center fielder, extending the lead to 7-5. Robertson, who was 4-4 on the day, provided the dagger in the game with a two run home run to center field for his fifth hit of the game, first home run of the year, and 19th and 20th RBI’s of the year. The Vikings ended the top of the tenth up 9-5.
“Just trying not to put too much pressure on myself today, go out there and have fun,” Robertson said. “Just trying to see good pitching, just trying to get great at-bats and reps before I had back to school. It’s no big deal, I’m going out there and playing my game, if I don't get recognition then I don't and if I do then I do.”
Tobin, who pitched one out in the ninth inning, came back out for the tenth. The Panthers led the inning off with a single scoring one run cutting the deficit to 9-6. After that, Tobin shut down the Panthers and the Vikings escaped with a 9-6 win.
“Great team win today, the offense hit the ball well and the guys were confident,” Vikings manager Rocco Mossuto said. “That’s a great team we played, but proud of our guys coming out and playing. For most guys it’s their last opportunity to play before school starts and they came ready.”
The Vikings end their road trip Sunday, August 9 against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. The game is at Oil City Stadium located in Whiting, Ind. and the first pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. The broadcast will be available on the Northwest Indiana Facebook page via Facebook Live. Brandon Vickrey and Andrew Fish will have the call for the game.
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