Vikings Walk-Off Chicago American Giants For Much Needed Win

By: Cavan Malayter

Hammond, Ind. – July 18, 2022 – When you have a long weekend without playing any games, you never know how your team will respond.

But the response by the Southland Vikings (21-13-2) was strong as they were able to fight off the Chicago American Giants (4-26-1), winning by a final of 4-3 in walk-off fashion.

The game turned out to be a pitcher’s duel for the first three and a half innings of the contest. Before Southland broke through in their half of the fourth inning.

Zach McKenna led off the inning with an infield single and was able to advance to second on an error from the Chicago shortstop. A few batters later, George Bilecki reached via a walk which brought Armani Sanchez to the plate. Sanchez would drive in McKenna from second on an RBI single, giving Southland the 1-0 lead. Bilecki would later come around to score from third base after A.J. Taylor reached first on an error made at first base.

Their lead would hold for another inning and that was to the credit of right-handed pitcher K.J. Evans. Evans, who was making his debut with the Vikings on Monday, tossed five innings of one-run baseball (the run was unearned), yielding just five hits while picking up two strikeouts in his debut.

After the Giants tied it in the sixth, Southland looked to regain control of the game in the seventh and were successful in doing so. After A.J. Taylor was able to hit a one-out single and steal second base, he was able to score from second after Nick Fies reached after an error made in left field. Giving Southland a 3-2 lead.

While Chicago was able to tie the game up in the top of the ninth, they had multiple chances to do even more damage in the final four innings of the game. They were unable to as a result of the quality pitching of Zach Costello.

Costello pitched the final four innings of the game, allowing one earned run while striking out three. Despite giving up the lead on separate occasions, Costello powered through and picked up the win.

“Last start I had I struggled and I came back harder and I put it in the right spots,” Costello said. “I just kept digging and grinding for it to get to the win for the Vikings. It was tough, it put a lot of pressure on me, but I went in and I did my job.”

Costello was able to get the win for the Vikings due to the heroics of Will Flanigan. With runners on first and second with only one out, Flanigan stepped up and hit a bloop single down the left field line, scoring Jason Krol from second base to win the game for Southland.

“I feel like it's probably luck,” Flanigan said. “But then, I'm just trying to find a hole just hitting them where they’re not and it just worked out my way again.”

The Vikings are back in action on Tuesday as they return to Marian Catholic High School for another road game against the Crestwood Panthers. The two teams are set to square off for a 5 p.m. first pitch in Chicago Heights with the game available to watch on Facebook Live.

7/18/22 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E L
Giants 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 3 7 2 5
Vikings 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 4 7 2 8

This is Vikings Baseball.

Photo Credit: Isaiah Santiago

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