Game Changer

Strong Pitching Surges Vikings Over Panthers

By: Jack Theil

Hammond, Ind. - July 7, 2021 - The Southland Vikings (9-13) coming off their best win of the season on Monday. Looked to follow up with their rival the Crestwood Panthers (11-10) on Wednesday. The Vikings were down early, but timely offense and standout pitching surged the Vikings over the Panthers 6-3.

 Both teams were scoreless through the first inning, the Panthers struck first in the second inning with one run to take a 1-0 lead. 

 The Vikings responded with a big second inning. Consecutive walks from Patrick Doran (North Carolina Central / Evergreen Park, Ill.) and Caleb Evans (Jackson State / Hawthorn Woods, Ill.). Luke Sefcik (Central Michigan / Palos Heights, Ill.) grounded into a fielder's choice but advanced Doran to third and Evans to second. Jon Crowel (Flagler / Highland, Ind.) lined a sac-fly to left center scoring Doran, tying the game 1-1. The next batter Alex Gasborro (Purdue Northwest / New Lenox, Ill.) drove an RBI single to right field scoring Evans, taking a 2-1 lead. Shawn Rigsby (St. Ambrose / Myrtle Creek, Ore.) continued the runs with a RBI triple to centerfield, scoring Gasborro, 3-1. Rigsby scored on a wild pitch the next at-bat, 4-1.

 “Just trying to get the pitches I can hit and not swinging at any pitches outside the zone,” Rigsby said. “I keep my same approach, usually getting on base but hitting the ball hard as well.”

 Momentum on the Vikings side, one run was added in the third. Chris McDevitt (Indiana State / Chicago, Ill.) roped a lead-off double to left field. Sefick singled to right field, scoring McDevitt, 5-1.

 With five runs already, the Vikings weren’t done. In the fourth inning, Rigsby led the inning off with a hit by pitch and advanced to second by folders choice from the next batter. McDevitt dropped an RBI single in front of the left fielder, 6-1.

 Nolan Vlcek (Marshalltown / Lockport, Ill.) came out of the bullpen in the fourth and did what Nolan Vlcek has done all year long, dominate on the mound. Vlcek kept the Panthers hitters guessing at the plate, adding to his high strikeout total. He threw five innings, gave up three hits, zero runs, eight strikeouts, 12 swings and misses, holding hitters to a .167 batting average and lowering his ERA to 1.44.

 “My dad and I work in the backyard, I have a catcher and we work location, location, location, that was my biggest thing I was struggling with so we set up a box and try to dot them in there and translate it to the games. My bullpen work has been different, going up there 0-0 with a slider for strike one, trust my fielders as well behind me. I’m just out here having fun, how can’t you be hyped about playing baseball in the summer man.”

 The Vikings didn’t score the rest of the game but the Panthers made things interesting, scoring two runs in the ninth but failing to score anymore as the Vikings won their second straight game 6-3.

 “The pitching was just great for us, that’s the second game where our pitching has done an impressive job,” Assistant Manager Ryan Gyrion said. “The offense had clutch hits and we cleaned things up on the defense. Last game we had five errors and tonight we had about one small error. That’s the biggest thing going forward is cleaning it up on defense and tonight was a good start.”

 The Vikings next game is Thursday, July 8 vs Crestwood Panthers. First pitch is slated for 5:05 p.m. and the game is at Dowling Park located in Hammond, Ind. The game will be broadcasted on the Southland Vikings Facebook Page via Facebook Live. Jack Theil and Jon Zaghloul will have the call for the game. 

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