Vikings Beat Oilmen In High-Scoring Affair

By: Cavan Malayter

Whiting, Ind. – July 9, 2022 – There is a saying that goes, “revenge is a dish best served cold.” For the Vikings on Saturday night, several cold-blooded plays allowed them to get revenge on their rivals. 

The Southland Vikings (18-12-1) defeated the Northwest Indiana Oilmen (18-15) by a final of 10-9 on a Saturday night at Oil City Stadium. The contest was the fourth win over the Oilmen for Southland this season, but more importantly, the win kept the Vikings in second place. 

“It [tonight’s game] was for Rocco,” Vikings infielder Luke Sefcik said. “He’s always got our backs. It’s time for us to start having Rocco's back.” 

The Vikings came out with that energy and it showed. After Jason Krol and Chris McDevitt got on base with a pair of one-out singles, Luke Sefcik would proceed to hit an RBI groundout to score Krol, followed by an RBI single by Chris Pantaleon. Giving the Vikings an early two-run advantage. 

Despite the Oilmen tying the game in the home half of the third, the tie wouldn’t last long. Luke Sefcik would lead off the inning with a no-doubt home run, having no trouble clearing the monster in left field. Since Sefcik’s return from the Northwoods League, he’s now hitting for an average of .352 with five runs batted in and a home run. 

“He's hitting fastballs more and he's catching the barrel [of the bat] more,” acting manager Scott Nowakowski said. “When he first started with us, he didn't have a lot of swings and when he went to the Northwoods League, he got a lot of opportunities [to hit] and it shows now.” 

The homer gave Southland the momentum, and they looked to bury the Oilmen as soon as possible. That first opportunity came on the visitor’s side of the sixth. 

After both McDevitt and Sefcik reached base, and a one-out hit-by-pitch by Beau Polickey, the Vikings had them loaded with only one away. Infielder Nick Fies would hit a pop-up into foul territory behind home plate that was caught for out number two. However, no one was covering home plate, which allowed Chris McDevitt to tag up from third and score on a popout to the catcher. 

The play allowed both Sefcik and Polickey to advance 90 feet. After new-addition Jake Pevion was hit by a pitch to re-load the bases, Viking right-handed pitcher Max Everaert stepped up to the plate. Everaert would hit a weak grounder in front of home plate, with an easy force at the plate, the Oilmen pitcher tried to throw the runner out at first and threw it away. This error gave the Vikings two runs and more momentum. A few batters later, Jason Krol came back up and drove in both Pevion and Everaert to expand the Southland lead by six runs. 

However, the lead was not secure for Southland. As Northwest Indiana would claw back and tie the game in their half of the seventh. But with multiple opportunities for the Oilmen to take the lead, Vikings reliever Liam McKillop did not break, keeping the game tied for his squad. 

McKillop worked the final three innings and was the winning pitcher of record in Saturday’s game, allowing four runs (two of them were unearned), five hits and one walk. Additionally, McKillop’s performance featured six strikeouts, five of them coming in the final two innings of play. 

The ninth inning was filled with drama, as the score was tied with the ‘Vikes coming up to bat. Once again, McDevitt and Sefcik reached base in consecutive plate appearances, and two hitters later, Beau Polickey stepped up to the plate with two hits. He drove a base hit which allowed McDevitt to score from second base, giving Southland the lead. Nick Fies came up to bat after the Polickey single and did the same. Driving in Sefcik from third, proved to be the difference in scoring. 

“I'm trying to stay patient and figure out my swing,” Fies said. “Tonight I got a little lucky with a little bloop shot, but I'll take what I can get right now.” 

Northwest Indiana was able to score a run in the ninth to make it a one-run game, but with an opportunity to tie or potentially win the game, the heart of the Oilmen lineup struggled in the ninth against McKillop. Two strikeouts and a popup to short saw the Vikings close out the game and take the win.

The Southland Vikings will look to continue this momentum into a matchup with the Crestwood Panthers on Monday, July 11. The two teams will square off at Hammond’s Dowling Park with first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m. Fans will be able to watch or listen to the game on Facebook Live and the Vikings Radio Network. 

7/9/22 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E L
Vikings 2 0 0 1 0 5 0 0 2 10 11 1 8
Oilmen 0 0 2 0 0 3 3 0 1 9 10 1 8

This is Vikings Baseball.

Photo Credit: Isaiah Santiago

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