Game Changer

Vikings Offense Explodes, Pitching Stifles Oilmen

By: Jack Theil

Hammond, Ind. - July 22, 2021 - The Southland Vikings (13-17) coming off a key win on Wednesday faced their rival the Northwest Indiana Oilmen (17-7) on Thursday. The Vikings needed a win and just got that. The pitching staff for Southland shut down the Oilmen and the offense exploded in the last two innings cruising to a 11-1 win.

 Southland came right out of the gates in the first inning. Lead-off hit by pitch for Nick McAllister (Eskrine / Homewood, Ill.), McAllister advanced to second on a balk. Logan Anderson (South Suburban / Frankfort, Ill.) drove an RBI single to center field scoring McAllister, 1-0. Chris McDevitt (Indiana State / Chicago, Ill.) followed with an RBI double over the left fielder's head, 2-0. Alex Gasbarro (Purdue Northwest / New Lenox, Ill.) grounded into a fielder's choice, scoring McDevitt, 3-0. 

 “With a good arm on the mound, I knew he was going to challenge me and try to strike us out so just be ready to hit the ball,” Anderson said. “Feels good to beat a team like the Oilmen, it’s good to beat them just because of the past years between these two teams. We’re just going to stay at what we're doing and we’ve been saying the July Vikings are dangerous so just keep our heads up and win.”

 The Oilmen plated one run in the second, 3-1 but the Vikings answered with their own run in the bottom of the second. Lead-off triple from Jaden Lee (Undecided / Monee, Ill.), Lee scored on an errant throw to first from the pitcher on McAllisters at-bat, 4-1.

 Joe Rycerz (St. Xavier / Schererville, Ind.) came in for relief in the fourth inning and had his best outing of the season. Inducing an inning ending double to get out of the fourth inning, throwing three and two thirds scoreless innings, allowing one hit, zero runs, and five strikeouts. 

 “I played on the Oilmen the last two years so I enjoy playing against them,” Rycerz said. “I’m on the Vikings now, so it meant a little more to me today. Honestly the mentality is different for me when facing my former team. Doran and I both played for the Oilmen so we always get juiced up when we play them. My two-seam was working well today and my slider was dirty today so both pitches were working well.”

 The Vikings broke open the game with a crooked number in the seventh inning. Three consecutive singles from McAllister, Imlach, and Anderson's single plated one run scoring McAllister, 5-1. McDevitt grounded out to second base, scoring Imlach, 6-1. Patrick Doran (North Carolina Central / Evergreen Park, Ill.) drove an RBI double over the left fielder's head, 7-1. Gasbarro continued with an RBI single to center field , 8-1. Lucas Spence (Uncommitted / Beecher, Ill.) beat out an RBI infield single, plating the fifth run of the inning, 9-1.

 “Just trying to get my pitch, be aggressive at the plate, stay through the ball, and put good swings on good pitches,” Gasbarro said. “All three of my hits were on fastballs, early in the count, so I was still being aggressive and swinging at my pitches. Obviously playing at Dowling Park for Purdue Northwest has been huge this summer, knowing how the turf plays, I feel a little faster out here as well so just recording stolen bases.”

 Southland enforced the 10 run rule in the eighth inning with two runs. McAllister reached via an errant play by the shortstop. McAllister stole second base, reached third on a single, and scored on a wild pitch, 10-1. Bases loaded with one out, Gasbarro for his third RBI lined an RBI single past the third baseman, 11-1. The Vikings applied the 10 run rule, recording 15 hits and the bullpen allowing one run in the past 15 innings, securing a 11-1 win.

 “The guys played well and were soaked today,” Vikings Manger Rocco Mossuto said. “Huge day from the pitchers, it was a bullpen day for us and we dominated on the mound. The offense was swinging aggressively at the plate and beat one of the better pitchers in the MCL. Overall this was one of our best games and it came at a great time here at the end of the season.”

 The Vikings next game is Saturday, July 24 against the Chicago American Giants. First pitch is slated for 12:05 p.m. and the game is at Gouwens Park in South Holland, Ill. The game will be broadcasted on the Southland Vikings Facebook Page via Facebook Live. Jack Theil will have the call for the game.

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