Game Changer

Vikings Settle for Another Split Doubleheader After Costly Error in First Game.  

By: Will Trubshaw

Chicago, Ill. – July 28, 2019 – Coming into the final day of a trying stretch of eight games in six days with two days off on the horizon, the Vikings came in poised to finish on a high note.   Though they did not sweep their doubleheader with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen, they maintained the status quo with another split.  

Both games were nail-biters all the way through, with the Vikings losing the first in heartbreaking fashion in extras. Game 2 was a slow start for the offense, but a four run 5th catapulted them in front for the win.

“I’ll take the two splits in two days. Obviously, it would have been nice to win three of four or all of them, but I’ll take the split and take these two days off,” said manager Dave Letourneau.  

The first game featured more strong pitching for the Vikings, with Jake Ruppert (St. Xavier) going six innings while allowing only one run. That run would come in the fourth as the Oilmen took a 1-0 lead. It would last just one inning before the Vikings struck for three runs in the home half of the fifth.  

Joe Curci (RPI) led off the inning with a no doubt home run on the first pitch of his at-bat to tie the game at 1. Steve Insley (Moraine Valley) and AJ Wright (Northwood University) then reached on singles and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Joe Egan (Loras College) and Dashon Moore (U of I Springfield) were retired in short order, and with two outs Justin Rios (North Central College) stepped to the plate.  

Rios served a line drive in to right to score the two and put the Vikings in front 3-1.   With Mike Tobin (Concordia Chicago) set to start the second game, Trey Ricko (UT-Martin) took the ball to try and get the save. Ricko was able to induce two quick groundballs, however the latter of the two was bobbled for an error, allowing the Oilmen to rally after what should’ve been a quick inning. 

“You got to be so good defensively in tight games otherwise you’re gonna lose baseball games,” Letourneau said. “Trey came in and got the groundball. You make the play and its two outs and nobody on. An error cost us that game.”  

The game remained tied after seven, so the teams went to extras. In the eighth, the Oilmen’s Jackson Dvorak hit a leadoff homerun to put the Oilmen in front. The Vikings could not mount a comeback in the bottom half, losing the opener again in heartbreaking fashion.  

The loss temporarily dropped the Vikings back in a tie for first place in the MCL with Bloomington. However, it did not last long as the Vikings bounced back in spectacular fashion in the night cap.

Mike Tobin, making his first start after 19 bullpen appearances, allowed just one run, a solo homer in the third, over seven dominating innings. The Vikings tied the game in the fourth on an Anthony Rios double. It was the first hit of the game for the Vikings, and one of only three they would have total for the game.  

The Vikings grabbed the lead and some insurance runs the next inning, thanks to three walks and a couple singles off the bats of Insley and Rios. Logan Anderson (South Suburban) and Curci added RBI groundouts to complete the 4-run inning that put the Vikings in front 5-1.  

“We did a really good job of responding. Toby was outstanding,” Letourneau said.  

The Vikings now get two days off to recuperate before embarking on the final week of the regular season. Still firmly entrenched in the playoff picture, they’ll look to these final games to improve their record and remain in contention for home-field advantage for the postseason as a 1 or 2-seed.  

When they return from their break, they will host the Bloomington Bobcats for the final time this season, with first place once again on the line. Will Trubshaw will have the call on the Southland Vikings Broadcast Network. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

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