By: Jack Theil
Hammond, Ind. - July 13, 2021 - The Southland Vikings (10-15) coming off a home run frenzy loss on Friday, faced the same opponent the MCL Minutemen (5-15) on Tuesday night. The seven inning matchup was all Vikings from the start but the impressive pitching performance from Vlcek proved to be the key in the Vikings 5-3 win.
The Vikings jumped out of the gate early in the first three innings. In the first Nick McAllister (Erskine / Homewood, Ill.) led the game off with a walk. Bryant Diel (Northwestern Ohio / South Elgin, Ill.) lined an RBI triple over the right fielder's head scoring McAllister, 1-0.
In the second inning, Alex Gasbarro (Purdue Northwest / New Lenox, Ill.) grounded into a fielder's choice, beating the throw out from second. Ethan Imlach (Purdue Northwest / Mokena, Ill.) poked a single past the second baseman, first and second with two outs. Gasbarro advanced to third on a wild pitch, as well as scored on a wild pitch, 2-0.
In the third inning with two outs Angelo Cantelo (Lewis / Blue Island, Ill.) was hit by a pitch. Shawn Rigsby (St. Ambrose / Myrtle Creek, Ore.) lined a two-out single to left field. Luke Sefcik (Central Michigan / Palos Heights, Ill.) popped up to right field, but the right fielder wasn’t able to catch the ball, scoring Cantelo and Rigsby, 4-0.
Nolan Vlcek (Marshalltown / Lockport, Ill.) started for the Vikings and continued to ramp up his strikeout totals. Vlcek only found trouble in the fourth inning giving up three runs, 4-3. But the righty had one of his most impressive starts of the season, having the first nine outs be strikeouts, lasting five innings, two hits, three runs, season high 11 strikeouts, season high 22 swings and misses, and holding hitters to a .125 batting average.
“Last summer in August I threw 13 strikeouts so it’s been almost a year with this high of strikeout totals,” Vlcek said. “I just feel that strikeout stuff, when I get the hitters in 0-1 or 0-2, I have him right where I want him. I might lose a pitch, then go with the slider or high fastball and if I don’t get him after those pitches, I’m just going to go right at him. I was just trying to strike out everyone and I needed to trust my defense behind and have them make plays as well, so that was key in getting out of that fourth inning. Feels good, work is paying off, I can’t wait to go to the all-star game Tuesday and see the guys there.”
The Vikings added one more run in the fifth. Patrick Doran (North Carolina Central / Evergreen Park, Ill.) chopped a one-out single to third base. Rigsby walked, advancing Doran to second with one out. Sefcik roped an RBI single to right field, scoring Doran, extending the lead to 5-3.
Joe Rycerz (St. Xavier / Schererville, Ind.) came in the seventh inning to save the game and did just that. Forcing a double play and ending the game with a strikeout, the Vikings went on to win the seven inning matchup 5-3.
“Great game for us as a team,” Vikings Manager Rocco Mossuto. “Obviously after the last game, you wanted to forget and erase it from memory and I thought we came back and responded well with tonight’s performance. Vlcek looked great on the mound and I thought the offense had some timely hits that turned into runs later in the game.”
The Vikings next game is Wednesday, July 14 against the Chicago American Giant. First pitch is slated for 5:05 p.m. and the game will take place at Dowling Park located in Hammond, Ind. The game will be broadcasted on the Southland Vikings Facebook Page via Facebook Live. Jack Theil and Zach Carr will have the call for the game.
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