Vikings Blow Lead Late; Fall To Generals In Ten

By: Brandon Januska

Griffith, Ind. – July 30, 2023 – The Southland Vikings were unable to hold on to a ninth inning lead on Sunday in Griffith as they lost to the Generals 4-3 in ten innings.

Nolan Vlcek started on the mound for the Vikings and looked sharp in his final regular season start.

“He just keeps on getting better,” manager Sullivan Stickann said of his ace. “His velocity was up today, and he was really efficient today. Exactly what we’ll need in the playoffs.”

Vlcek tossed five shutout innings allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out nine in a no decision. He also lowered his season ERA to a Northern League best 1.94.

The Vikings gave Vlcek the lead in the second inning with an RBI groundout from Matt Merk to score Jack Fitzharris. They added two more runs in the third inning with an RBI single from Lucas Pajeau and Angelo Luna scored a run on a passed ball to give the Vikings a 3-0 lead.

Griffith got on the board with a pair of runs in the sixth inning when Joey Carra hit a bloop single into left center field with the bases loaded to cut the score to 3-2.

The score remained the same going into the ninth inning. After failing to score with two men in scoring position in the top of the ninth, the Vikings could not hold on to their one run lead in the bottom half.

The Generals saw four consecutive batters reach safely with one out as Lucas Pajeau struggled with his command for the first time this season. A hit by pitch was followed by a single and then two straight walks to drive in the tying run.

Pajeau managed to limit the damage to just one run and send the game to extra innings with a big strikeout of Aaron Orzech, followed by a flyout to left.

In the tenth inning, the teams agreed to start with a runner at second base. The Vikings started with Pajeau on second and eventually had runners at second and third with just one out.

However, they could not bring the go-ahead run across as Caleb Deel induced a popup from Hobbs Dunne which was caught in foul territory, and then struck out Jimmy Gurgone to keep the game tied.

In the bottom of the tenth, Nick Fies started at second base and quickly came around to score after Ronnie Nowak laid down a sacrifice bunt and the throw to first from Pajeau sailed into foul grounds to end the game.

With the loss, the third place Vikings (25-22) remain one game behind the second place Oilmen (27-22) in the standings with just three regular season games remaining.

The Vikings will enjoy a day off on Monday before making their final trip out to Nappanee this season to take on the Elkhart County Miracle on Tuesday. First pitch is at 6pm ct.  

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