Game Changer

Rycerz Go-Ahead Home Run, Lifts Vikings Over Minutemen

By: Jack Theil

Hammond, Ind. - July 16, 2021 - The Southland Vikings (11-16) trying to end their week with a win, faced off against the MCL Minutemen (5-16) for the fourth time in five games on Friday. Vikings led throughout the majority of the game, but an enormous go-ahead home run from Rycerz lifted the Vikings over the Minutemen 6-3 in seven innings.

 The Vikings jumped to an early lead in the third inning. Darrius Little (Morton / Chicago, Ill.) led the inning off with a walk. Little stole second base and advanced to third on a groundout. Chris McDevitt (Indiana State / Chicago, Ill.) lined an RBI single past the first basemen scoring Little, 1-0. 

 Southland added to their lead in the fourth inning. Luke Sefcik (Central Michigan / Palos Heights, Ill.) started the inning off by reaching first via error. The next batter Nick McAllister (Eskrine / Homewood, Ill.) drew a walk, first and second no out. Kyel Alexander (St. Ambrose / Burbank, Ill.) poked a two RBI single to right field scoring Sefcik and McAllister, 3-0.

 “I saw a combination of fastballs and offspeed,” Alexander said. “I’ve been seeing the ball well and they’ve been pitching to me away a lot so in my second at-bat I was able to square one for a hit. I’ve been making adjustments to my approach throughout the season. Early I was being aggressive and swinging at balls outside the zone, lately I’ve been patient and waiting for my pitch to swing at.”

 The Minutemen didn’t go away, scoring one run in the fourth inning and scoring two runs in the sixth, tying the game at 3-3.

 With one inning left to play, the Vikings took the lead. Caleb Evans (Jackson State / Hawthorn Woods, Ill.) reached first on a dropped third strike and McDevitt drew a walk with one out. Joe Rycerz (St. Xavier / Schererville, Ind.) changed the game with a line drive go-ahead three run home run to left field, his first of the season, giving the Vikings a late 6-3 lead. 

 “That one felt good, I was looking for a fastball and I just hit it out,” Rycerz said. “There was a lot of topspin on the ball, I knew it was gone when I hit it but it was weird. It didn't seem like a normal home run.”

 With three outs to secure the win, the Vikings turned a game-ending double in the seventh to win 6-3.

 “Credit to the pitching staff for today's win,” Vikings Assistant Manager Ryan Gyrion said. “The pitching did very well and you obviously point to the Rycerz home run in the seventh. You talk about stepping up big and that’s what Joe Rycerz did tonight.”

 The Vikings next game will be a double header against the Joliet Generals on Monday, July 19. Both games will be seven innings and take place at 5:05 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The games will be played at Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream, Ill. You can view the games on the Southland Vikings Facebook Page via Facebook Live. Jack Theil and Kevin Redfern will have the call for the game.

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