Vikings Walk-Off Chicago American Giants, Win Fourth Straight

By: Cavan Malayter

Hammond, Ind. – June 16, 2022 – Walk-off wins are fun.

The Southland Vikings (9-7-1) were feeling that after defeating the Chicago American Giants (3-10-1) by a score of 11-10 in a seven-inning shortened game. The Vikings scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh to complete the comeback. 

The Vikings fell behind 4-0 in the first inning and were looking to respond in the bottom of the second. Southland would score three in the second inning, highlighted by three different RBI singles by Max Malley, George Bilecki, and Blaze Cano cutting the deficit to 4-3. 

Despite the Giants tacking on an insurance run in the top of the third, Southland was able to respond immediately. After Jason Krol reached on an error and a Julio Treviño single, Zach McKenna knocked in a run-scoring single to plate Krol. In the next at-bat, with Treviño standing on third base, a wild pitch reaches the backstop and allows Treviño to score with ease to tie the game. 

From there, each team traded scoreless innings until the sixth when the Giants put up two runs to take a 7-5 lead. But once again the Vikings were ready to respond. As George Bilecki hit a long home run to right field to cut the Viking deficit to one. 

“I had to change my whole approach before the game,” Bilecki said. “When I face a lefty, I gotta make sure I get my foot down early and make sure I see the ball the whole way because sometimes, seeing a lefty on lefty, it's hard to see [the ball].”

However, the one-run hole for the Vikings grew even larger as the Giants scored three runs in the top of the seventh on just one hit, giving them a four-run advantage and the driver’s seat to victory. 

But, the Vikings still had one more comeback in them. After back-to-back singles from Anthony Fornero and Zach McKenna, Max Malley stepped up to the plate with one out and drove in Fornero with an RBI single. A wild pitch while Bilecki was up to bat sent two runners into scoring position with just one out. Bilecki would end up walking to load the bases for Blaze Cano, who capitalized on the opportunity and made it a 10-8 game after an RBI single. 

With the bases still loaded and Chris McDevitt up, Max Malley now stood on third and pulled off one of the best plays by a Viking thus far. After the Giants catcher lobbed the ball back to the mound, Malley got aggressive and bolted for home. He was able to slide in safely and made it a one-run game. 

“I was wanting to do that,” Malley said. “I just saw he was being really lazy back there, so I was like yeah, why not just try it, and [I] just timed it up perfectly.”

McDevitt would later walk which meant the tying run stood on third and the winning run on second with Jason Krol at the plate. Krol would fight off a couple of pitches before sending a ground ball to first, the Giants first baseman tried to start a double play but threw the ball into left field. The errant throw allowed both Bilecki and Cano to score, winning the game for the Vikings in a dramatic fashion. 

“It was pretty interesting,” Krol said. “I didn't think he was gonna try and turn two, so I was just trying to get down the line to break up a double play.”

The Vikings will now enjoy a three-day weekend before returning to action on Monday when they will play the Northwest Indiana Oilmen for the first time in 2022. The game is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Hammond’s Dowling Park. 

6/16/22 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E L
Giants 4 0 1 0 0 2 3 10 8 3 4
Vikings 0 3 2 0 0 1 5 11 13 3 7

This is Vikings Baseball.

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