Whiting, Ind. – August 9, 2022 – A great run by Southland all summer long comes to an end in Whiting on Tuesday night.
The Southland Vikings were defeated by the Northwest Indiana Oilmen by a score of 14-5 in the winner-take-all Northern League Semifinal matchup. The Vikings jumped out to an early lead, but the Oilmen put up 14 unanswered to advance to the league championship series for the fifth season in a row.
“I think it was the adrenaline,” Vikings coach Scott Nowakowski said. “We came out early, put up a couple of runs, and got a nice lead. Then once Baker hit that Grand Slam, I think that kind of burst our bubble.”
After Colin Amsden worked a three-up, three-down first inning on the mound, the Southland offense came to bat for the first time and pounced on Oilmen starter CJ Byrdak. After George Bilecki singled and Luke Sefcik doubled, Chris McDevitt stepped up with two runners in scoring position and only one out.
McDevitt ripped a breaking ball into the outfield for a two-RBI single allowing both Bilecki and Sefcik to score from their respective bases.
“Every time we’ve played him [Byrdak] we mostly hit him,” McDevitt said. “Luke knows I don’t think he’s gotten me all summer and I knew he was going to throw me a first-pitch breaking ball and I knew right away like I’m not getting a fastball here.”
McDevitt would later come around to cross along with A.J. Taylor after Logan Anderson crushed a ball for a two-run double. Anderson would eventually score on an RBI fielder’s choice by Jason Krol. This strong start forced the Oilmen to go to their bullpen in the first.
But that’s where everything changed. The Oilmen bullpen did not give up a run and the Southland offense only grabbed six hits from the second inning onward. That combined with the timely hitting by NWI, highlighted by a Chris Baker go-ahead grand slam, saw the game slip away from the ‘Vikes, which meant their season would come to a sudden end.
Although the result was not what the players or coaching staff wanted, 2022 was a successful summer for Southland. The Vikings finished the season with a record of 26-20-2. The 26-win mark ties the 2019 Viking squad for the third most wins in a single season in Southland Viking history.