Vikings Lose in Walk-Off Fashion

By: Jack Sheehan

When Viking’s head coach Chris Cunningham brought in closer Anthony Andres in last night’s game against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen the bottom of the ninth inning seemed like it would be a formality. 

Andres has been lights out in the closer role for Southland all season, unfortunately for the Vikings that was not the case at Oil City Stadium last night. 

With a two-run cushion Andres took to the mound set to face the nine, one and two hitters in the Oilmen batting order, and at a perfect 3-3 in save opportunities this season, Andres had that swagger in his step that a confident closer portrays walking out to the mound. 

After hitting Anthony Bova on the calf on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, then throwing the ball into right field on an arrant pick-off attempt allowing Bova to advance to third base, that confidence in Andres’ step quickly turned to panic.

Andres then walked leadoff hitter Jack Czeszewski on five pitches, setting up a first and third situation for the Oilmen with nobody out.

Andres, who has picked off two runners this season with his devastating pick-off move again tried to steal an out by throwing over to first base.

Although it appeared Andres caught Czeszewski at first, home plate umpire Craig Zimmerman immediately threw his hands in the air to call the Viking closer on a balk, allowing Bova to stroll home and Czeszewski to second base bringing the score to 4-3 with nobody out. 

The wheels then completely fell off for Southland as Andres picked up the sacrifice bunt effort by Oilmen shortstop Joe Houlihan and elected to throw it to third baseman Chris Stevens with Czeszewski attempting to take third base on the bunt. 

Andres’ throw sailed over the head of Stevens and into left field, scoring Czeszewski while Houlihan reached second base on his second throwing error of the inning. 

Andres was able to get the next two Oilmen out by way of the ground ball, allowing Houlihan to reach third base on a grounder off the bat of Tyler Baar to the right side. 

With two outs and a man on third base in the 4-4 tied game, the first pitch swinging Nick Bartolone drove an Andres fastball into right field for a single and the walk-off victory for Northwest Indiana. 

A crafty outing by Viking starting pitcher Chris Chigas was all for not, as the left hander pitched five innings of one hit baseball, walking four Oilmen while striking out a season-high six batters. 

With his first blown save of the season also comes his first loss, as Andres moves to 0-1 for Southland this summer.

Matt Pobereyko earned the win for the Oilmen on one scoreless inning of work. 

The Vikings move to 5-6 on the season, as they play the Rockford Foresters (1-7) at Viking Field tonight. 

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