Vikings Sweep Doubleheader Over Oilmen To Clinch Playoff Berth

By: Brandon Januska

Hammond, Ind. – July 27, 2023 – The Southland Vikings are heading to the playoffs for the tenth time in franchise history after sweeping a doubleheader against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Thursday in the final two games at Dowling Park this season.

The Vikings join the Oilmen and Lake County Corn Dogs as teams who have punched their tickets to the postseason already.

On a hot day in Hammond, the Vikings won game one behind a strong performance by Matt Maloney who allowed two runs on just three hits in six plus innings and settled in after hitting three batters in the first inning.

“[Matt] Merk called a great game, and I was able to really settle in after the first inning,” Maloney said after the game. “It feels great clinching the postseason and now the goal is to win a championship.”

The Vikings scored three unearned runs in the third inning and then doubled their score in the sixth inning with a two out, two run single from Hobbs Dunne followed by an RBI single by Ty Chaney Jr.

Mike Kelly picked up his fourth save of the season after tossing a scoreless seventh inning to give the Vikings a 6-2 win.

Kelly then started on the mound for the Vikings in game two and after setting the Oilmen down in order in the first, he ran into trouble in the second.

The Oilmen loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a hit by pitch, then received a bases clearing triple from Anthony Fornero to take a 3-0 lead.

Northwest Indiana added another run before the inning was over as they chased Kelly from the game.

The Vikings responded in the bottom of the second by sending eleven men to the plate as they scored seven runs, including a bases clearing triple of their own from Lucas Pajeau.

The Oilmen were able to climb back within a run in the third, but that was as close as they would get as the Vikings held on to win 7-6 after five innings due to darkness.

“It feels really good to clinch,” manager Sullivan Stickann said of clinching a playoff spot in his first season as a collegiate manager. “The kids have really been buying in. We struggled with walks early on, but guys figured it out and we’ve gotten the confidence up…I really like the group that we have and I’m excited that we’ll be able to compete in the playoffs.

After the sweep, the third place Vikings now sit just half a game behind the second place Oilmen in the Northern League standings with six regular season games remaining.

The Vikings head to Crown Point to take on the Lake County Corn Dogs on Friday and Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 7pm each night.

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