Vikings Come From Behind To Win Second Straight Over Corn Dogs

By: Brandon Januska

Hammond, Ind. – July 20, 2023 – The Southland Vikings came out of the All-Star Break and picked up where they left off with another comeback win over the Lake County Corn Dogs.

The Vikings beat the reigning league champions for a second consecutive game, despite a rough first inning from ace Nolan Vlcek.

Vlcek had allowed just four earned runs all season prior to Thursday, but the Corn Dogs managed to plate four in the top of the first inning. They would add another run on a balk in the fourth inning to take a 5-1 lead.

The Vikings would not be discouraged and loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth inning with one out for All-Star Matt Merk, who came through with a two-run single to cut the lead to 5-3.

Colin Small came up next and during the at-bat, Merk took off for second base and was gunned down by Corn Dogs catcher Ethan Nielsen, but Jack Fitzharris was able to score on the throw to make it a one run game.

In the fifth inning, Shemar Harris tied the game with a two-out RBI single and then after a walk loaded the bases, Angelo Luna came through with a bases-clearing triple to give the Vikings an 8-5 lead.

“He was throwing me a lot of sliders and I was way out in front,” Luna said of Corn Dogs starter Adam Walters after striking out in his first two at-bats. “I just focused on trying to keep my hands back and at least put the ball in play and luckily I did.”

The three-run triple put Nolan Vlcek (6-0) in line for the win as he settled in after the first inning and tossed six innings allowing five runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

“They were hitting me even when I was hitting my spots, but that’s baseball,” Vlcek said of the four-run first inning. “I just kept throwing and stopped trying to be perfect and you saw what happened.”

The Corn Dogs pulled within one run in the seventh inning, but Matt Maloney managed to work out of a one-out jam with runners at second and third by striking out Hayden Matulich and getting Scott Hansen to fly out to center.

The Vikings held on to the 8-7 lead the rest of the way as Jacob Cook needed just four pitches to toss a scoreless eighth inning and Mike Kelly stranded the tying run at first in the ninth by striking out Doug Loden looking to end the game and pick up his third save of the season.

“The team is starting to get excited about the thought of playing in the playoffs and we are confident that we can beat anybody,” manager Sullivan Stickann said after the win. “The team is starting to see what to expect, and they feel confident against the Oilmen and Corn Dogs now.”

The Vikings (22-17) will head to Highland to take on the Indiana Panthers (17-23) on Friday. First pitch is at 7pm.

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