Manager Dave Letourneau likes what he sees from his offense.
Midlothian, Ill. – June 5, 2019 - After a third consecutive loss on Sunday, Manager Dave Letourneau speculated that after a couple days of rest, plus the addition of a large portion of his roster post - college finals/playoffs, that a winning streak would come next.
On Wednesday, the Vikings (1-3) proved Letourneau at least partly right, as they picked up their first win of the season, 7-3 over the Crestwood Panthers (0-6) at Howie Minas Field in Midlothian.
The game was an entertaining one, and closer than the final score would indicate. The Vikings would strike first, after Kyel Alexander and Dashon Moore singles plus Justin Rios being hit by a pitch set up back to back sacrifice flies by Anthony Rios and Joe Curci for a 2-0 lead.
Logan Strutz got the start for the Vikings, giving up just three earned runs through six innings. Two of those would come in the third, after three straight singles and a double from Reggie Brock knotted the game 2-2.
In the fifth, the Vikings jumped back in front 3-2 thanks to some savvy baserunning by Alexander. After a hustle leadoff double, Alexander advanced to third on a Moore sacrifice fly, and then came around to score on a Justin Rios groundout to second. After the Panthers tied the game again in the bottom half of the sixth, the Vikings took advantage of an error in the outfield to take a 4-3 lead.
Letourneau saw the situational hitting and capitalization on mistakes as one of the keys in the first Southland win of the season.
“I thought our approach of the plate was outstanding. I thought we lined out to right field a lot,” Letourneau said. “As a right handed hitter you’re looking to go the opposite way with the wind direction today. When you’re trying to pull, you get yourself in trouble and I thought we did a really good job of trying to go the other way with the baseball, a lot of great outs.”
The wind did not play a factor in the Vikings final three runs, as a bases loaded walk and passed-ball-turned-little-league-style comedy of errors in the eighth staked the Vikings to a 7-3 lead for good.
Letourneau praised the efforts of his pitching staff in addition to the offensive approach. After Strutz quality start, the trio of Zach Litke, Mike Tobin and Trey Ricko closed the book for good on the Vikings first win of the season. Letourneau sees this group as the kind that can stabilize the back end of a bullpen and routinely lock down games after six innings.
“We’re going to have a lot of power arms coming out of the pen and it’s going to be tough for other teams to score late on us,” Letourneau said. “Today was kind of like a little trial and error, and if our starters can get us six solid, our 7-8-9 is going to be really nasty.”
The Vikings will have to wait at least a couple more days to get another look at their vaunted bullpen and make good on Letourneau’s predicted winning streak, as Thursday and Friday’s games have been cancelled so that Letourneau can attend to his duties as assistant coach with the Mustangs of St. Rita as they compete for an IHSA State Title.
Southland will resume play Saturday from Whiting, Indiana when they take on the Oilmen from Oil City Stadium at 6:10 p.m. The game will be streamed via the Oilmen and Vikings’ Facebook pages.