Baseball: Southland Vikings defeat Northwest Indiana Oilmen 7-1
By Dave Melton For Sun-Times Media July 23, 2014 10:50PM
Updated: August 25, 2014 6:03PM
WHITING — The DuPage County Hounds can move over. There’s a new team at the top of the Midwest Collegiate League standings.
Coupled with a Hounds’ loss earlier Wednesday, the Southland Vikings moved into first place in the MCL with a 7-1 win over the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
“We’ve been playing good baseball at the right time,” Vikings manager Chris Cunningham said. “That’s the name of the game when it comes down to playoff time. You want to get hot and make sure everyone on your team stays healthy.”
Southland (24-11 MCL) took the rubber game in its season series with the Oilmen after the two teams split their previous eight meetings.
As they did in their three prior visits to Oil City Stadium, the Vikings struck in the top of the first inning, this time against Oilmen starting pitcher Jimmy McNamara. Three bloop singles were followed by a sacrifice fly by Chase Fieldhouse — McNamara’s high school teammate at Lake Central — made it an early 1-0 Southland lead.
“We got lucky enough to get some cheap hits in that first inning. None of those balls was hit hard,” Cunningham said. “You have to tip your cap to McNamara for getting out of that inning with only one run.”
Southland put together three straight hits again in the third, scoring two more runs.
That was more than enough run support for Vikings pitcher Brandon White, who ran his record to 4-1. In six innings, White surrendered just one run while scattering four hits and one walk.
“With the wind blowing out, I was just trying to keep the ball down,” White said. “My off-speed pitches were really working … I threw a lot of curveballs.”
“He was really pounding the zone. I thought his breaking ball was a lot sharper (Wednesday),” Cunningham said of White. “They’re a good fastball-hitting team, so he was mixing it up.”
Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, the Oilmen made their own situation worse with some untimely errors in the middle of another Vikings rally. Southland’s No. 9 hitter, Jerry Houston, scored without the aid of a hit. After walking, an errant pickoff throw moved Houston to third and a second errant throw on the same play sent Houston across home plate.
It was that kind of night for the Oilmen (23-16, 21-15 MCL), who dropped to 31/2 games behind the Vikings in the MCL standings and fourth place overall in the league.