Playoff Matchups Are Set After Vikings Beat Miracle

By: Brandon Januska

Nappanee, Ind. – August 1, 2023 – The Southland Vikings know that they will take on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen in the first round of the playoffs after beating the Elkhart County Miracle 7-5 on Tuesday to guarantee themselves either the second or third seed in the standings.

Southland led the entire way on Tuesday night in Nappanee, Ind. after scoring twice in the top of the first inning and then added two more in the second and three in the third by taking advantage of eight walks issued by Miracle starter Bryce Trail.

The Vikings led 7-0 in the top of the third, but it came at a cost as Charlie Dumo was forced to exit the game after taking a pitch off of his elbow with the bases loaded to drive in the sixth run. He initially remained in the game and ran for himself but was pulled defensively in the bottom of the inning and was replaced in the lineup by manager Sullivan Stickann since the Vikings were already playing without a designated hitter due to a shortage of players.

The Miracle started to battle back in the bottom of the third after Hobbs Dunne, who started the game on the mound, struggled with his control to start the frame, loading the bases on two walks and a hit by pitch.

George Leouses took over the situation and was able to limit the damage to just a pair of runs after striking out two and inducing a popup on the infield.

Leouses continued to work on the mound for the Vikings and finished with a season high four innings, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

“Those first two strikeouts definitely helped [my confidence] and then it was just adrenaline from there,” Leouses said after picking up the win in relief. “Kept my arm going and just kept making sure the off-speed got in the zone.”

Sullivan Stickann then called upon himself to pitch the seventh and eighth innings and despite giving up three doubles across the two frames, he managed to prevent the Miracle from scoring to keep the score 7-3 going into the ninth.

“Not what I was expecting today,” Stickann said of having to enter himself into the lineup. “But I throw live to the kids at Olive Harvey and throw a lot of batting practice so I knew that I would be around the zone and if you’re around the zone in a wood bat league you’ll be effective.”

Elkhart County made one last push in the ninth inning by scoring a pair of runs off of Jack Fitzharris, who started the inning on the mound, but Lucas Pajeau was able to come in and earn the save as the Miracle left the tying run at second base and the potential winning run at first.

The Vikings finished the season series against the Miracle with an 8-3 record after the win, including 7-2 at NorthWood Field of Dreams. They remain just one game behind the Oilmen for second place with two regular season games remaining and the Vikings and Oilmen play each other on Thursday in the regular season finale before meeting up in the first round of the playoffs.

“It’s going to be a great series between two very evenly matched teams in my opinion,” Stickann said of playing the Oilmen in the playoffs. “Definitely a series that we can win though as we have proven that we can beat any team in the league.”

Up next for the Vikings is a trip to Griffith on Wednesday to take on the Generals who walked off the Vikings for a comeback win on Sunday. First pitch is at 7:10pm.          

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