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Baseball: Southland Vikings ready for MCL title series vs. DuPage County

The SouthlVikings's Stefano Belmonte watches well-hit ball head toward fence against Joliet Admirals Joliet 6 2014. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times

The Southland Vikings's Stefano Belmonte watches a well-hit ball head toward the fence against the Joliet Admirals, Joliet 6, 2014. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

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MCL
CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Southland Vikings
vs. DuPage County Hounds

Game 1: Friday at Vikings
(at Homewood-Flossmoor High School), 7:10 p.m.

Game 2: Saturday at Hounds (at Benedictine University), 6 p.m.

Game 3: Sunday at Vikings
(at Homewood-Flossmoor High School), TBA-x

x-if necessary

Updated: September 2, 2014 6:25AM



With a chance to complete a two-game series sweep of the Lexington Snipes on Wednesday night, the Southland Vikings found themselves in an early 2-0 hole.

Starting pitcher Tyler House was pitching well despite giving up two runs, but that wasn’t the issue.

The offense? Well ...

“We’re looking at each other in the dugout thinking, ‘Let’s go out there and have some fun,’ ” the Vikings’ Dan Potempa said. “If we go up there with that ‘take some swings’ attitude, it tends to work out for us.”

It sure did for the Vikings, who scored 10 unanswered runs en route to a 10-2 victory and a berth in the Midwest Collegiate League championship series.

The Vikings (29-12) will meet the DuPage County Hounds (28-14) in the best-of-3 final, with Game 1 at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. The Hounds swept the Northwest Indiana Oilmen to advance.

Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday at Benedictine University in Lisle, and Game 3, if necessary, is slated for Sunday at H-F.

With his team two wins from becoming back-to-back MCL champ, Vikings manager Chris Cunningham is keeping his squad in the moment.

The message: focus on Friday.

“We’ve got a lot of winners on this team, the whole cast and crew,” Cunningham said. “We’re not talking about it much, but we’re definitely expecting and looking to win.”

The winning formula hasn’t changed much for the Vikings over the course of the season, with a high-octane offense and solid pitching.

Southland has scored at least five runs in 29 of its 41 games.

“Our lineup is really deep,” Potempa said. “The pitching staff has been holding teams to two or three runs. If the other team scores two, we’ll get three back. If they score three, we’ll take four. We have a lot of confidence in the lineup.”

In the Hounds, the Vikings face a team that has been dominant on its home field at Benedictine, going 17-3. Two of those losses were to ... yep, the Vikings, who won the season series 6-1.

“Their field has a nice atmosphere, usually get a nice crowd, and it’s a good place to play,” Cunningham said. “We have some good history there, but we look at it as another day of baseball.”

Consider the Vikings ready for a big finish.

“There’s a lot of excitement now, and this team has the most chemistry I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Potempa said. “We’re going to be really excited if we win it.”



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