Strong Pitching Propels Vikings To Opening Day Victory

By: Cavan Malayter

Hammond, Ind. – May 23, 2022.


The Southland Vikings (1-0) were victorious in their season-opening matchup against the Lake County Corn Dogs (0-1) on Monday at Dowling Park by a score of 3-2. After the two teams combined to score 5 runs in the first three innings of the game, each pitching staff settled in and the score held for the remainder of the game. 


The Vikings were able to jump out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning after center fielder Kyle Fenner led off the inning with a walk and later scored on a Jon Crowell sacrifice fly. 


Vikings starting pitcher, Brett Smith, would surrender the lead in the top of the second inning, giving up an RBI single to Crown Point’s Jaden Deel, scoring Cal Curiel. But that would be his only blemish on the day. Smith went two innings, allowing just the one run on two hits, and recorded four strikeouts. 


Despite giving up the lead in the top half of the 2nd, the Vikings regained the lead and didn’t look back. Vikings second baseman Blaze Cano hit an RBI double into right-center on a perfectly executed hit-and-run, and left fielder Sean Moore would plate Cano later that inning on an RBI groundout to give the Vikings a crucial insurance run at the time.


Crown Point would chip into the Viking lead in the third inning, as Cal Curiel knocked a base hit to left field, scoring one run, but that’s all the Corn Dogs could get as Sean Moore made a perfect throw to the plate to cut down the potential game-tying run in Tyler Schultz. 


From there, the Vikings went into cruise control behind stellar pitching and great defense. The Viking bullpen went seven innings, allowing just the one earned run, to go along with three strikeouts and only five hits. 


“I think just throwing strikes to get batters out,” said Viking right-handed pitcher Ray Cantelo, on the mentality of the Southland pitching staff. “The best thing for pitchers to do is just throw strikes and work ahead in the counts.” 


Behind the pitching staff throwing strikes all game, the Viking pitchers were picked up by their defense, which includes Blaze Cano, who played both middle infield positions in the team’s win Monday evening. 


“I’m just trying to become a better overall baseball player,” Cano said. “In college, I played mainly outfield and I liked it, but honestly, I missed playing [the] middle infield again, so it was nice being there again.” 


Getting their players reps is a key focus for both Vikings manager Brian Nowakowski and general manager Rocco Mossuto throughout the summer season. 


The Vikings will be in action on Tuesday when they travel to Carol Stream, Ill., to take on the defending league champion, Joliet Generals. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Lee Pfund Stadium.


5/23/22 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E L
Corn Dogs 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 0 10
Vikings 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 4 0 8

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