Game Changer

McKillops Gem Surges Vikings Over Oilmen

By: Jack Theil

Hammond, Ind. - July 5, 2021 - The Southland Vikings (8-13) entering their matchup on Monday with a two game losing skid. Their opponent the NWI Oilmen (11-5) entered with an eight game win streak. The two biggest rivals in the MCL clashed back and forth, but the Vikings pitching got the job done and ended the Oilmen's win streak, 5-2.

 The Vikings scored one run each in the first two innings. In the first, a Darrius Little (Morton College / Chicago, Ill.) lead-off double and Little advanced from second to home on a passed ball, 1-0. In the second, Bryant Diel (Northwestern Ohio / South Elgin, Ill.) crushed an opposite field solo home run to right field, his first of the year, 2-0.

 “Felt really good, not swinging much this summer due to summer vacation and stuff, the first pitch I saw going opposite field with it felt good,” Diel said. “Whenever I’m not here, I’m still at a baseball or facility or the gym, trying to improve something this summer before I go back to Northwestern Ohio.” 

 The Vikings added to their lead in the fifth inning. In the fifth, Lucas Spence (Uncommitted / Beecher, Ill.) lined a single to right field, Little chopped a grounder to third base but due to the errant throw, Little was safe. Spence advanced to third on a fielder's choice and scored on a wild pitch, 3-0. 

 Liam McKillop (Lincoln Land / Chicago, Ill.) received the start for the Vikings and kept the Oilmen uncomfortable at the plate. The righty through four errors dominated throughout the game, keeping the Vikings ahead in his start. McKillop did give up an unearned run in the sixth, 3-1. His day finished at 6 innings, four hits, one run (unearned), five strikeouts, holding hitters to a .182 batting average and bringing his ERA down to 2.40.

 “Felt good out there, got ahead, and pitched well,” McKillop said. “Just focus on the next and don’t make errors on yourself. It’s a good way to build up the rest of my season but we have a long way to go.”

 The Vikings responded with their own run in the sixth. Lead-off walk from Alex Gasbarro (Purdue Northwest / New Lenox, Ill.). Gasbarro advanced to second, third, and scored home on three wild pitches, 4-1.

 Zach Costello (St. Xavier / Seneca, Ill.) came out of the bullpen in the seventh inning. Costello, who's been a strong bullpen arm for the Vikings, continued his dominant season. Costello ran into trouble in the eighth as he gave up a home run, 4-2. Other than the home run, Costello cruised through the Oilmen lineup and kept the Vikings in the lead.

 “My pitches were working, slowing down the tempo of the game,” Costello said. “I’m a bullpen guy, I do my job, Rocco tells me to go to the bullpen, I work on my stuff and then I’m ready to go.”

 A much needed insurance run crossed the plate for the Vikings in the eighth. Diel grounded to the third baseman, due to the errant throw, Diel was safe at first. Jason Krol (Lewis / Chicago, Ill.) lined a single to right field, advancing Diel to third. Diel scored on an error by the catcher, 5-2.

 The Oilmen went down 1,2,3 in the ninth having the Vikings secure a 5-2 win. 

 “Great game for the guys today,” Vikings Manager Rocco Mossuto said. “Strong pitching from the guys today, played a huge role in today's game. We need to clean some things up but it was a great game for the team.”

 The Vikings next game is Wednesday, July 7 against the Crestwood Panthers. First pitch is slated for 5:05 p.m. and the game will take place in Dowling Park located in Hammond, Ind. You can view the game on the Southland Vikings Facebook Page via Facebook Live. Jack Theil will have the call for the game.

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