Vikings and Buccaneers split four-game series

Andy York

The baseball team split the four-game home-and-home series with Beloit last weekend, each winning one game at home and one on the road. The Vikings lost the opener at home 7-2, but won the nightcap 5-2. At Beloit, the Vikings dropped the first game 3-1, but again won the second game, this time by a score of 9-8 in 11 innings.
In the first game at Whiting Field, the Vikings jumped out early on the Buccaneers and took a 2-0 lead after the first inning. Tim O’Toole reached on an error to score on an Andrew Wong double. Wong advanced on a bad throw, and then scored on a squeeze bunt by Kevin Fitzsimmons. Unfortunately, that would be it for the Viking’s scoring, and Beloit got to LU starter B. J. Chase in the third inning for five runs. Chase would give up two more runs in the top of the sixth before getting pulled in favor of Tom Ritzer, who went scoreless for one-and-two-thirds innings. Chase picked up the loss, dropping his record to 2-2 on the season.
In the second game of the doubleheader, The Vikings once again put two runs on the board in the first inning. O’Toole singled, and both Brad Hauser and Wong reached on bunt singles to load the bases. One run came in when a pitch hit Doug Coe, and the second scored on a Mike Butzen sacrifice fly to left. Beloit got one run back in the second inning and remained a 2-1 game until tying the game at 2-2 in the seventh.
However, the LU bats were not cold this time, and they scored one run in the bottom of the seventh and two in the bottom of the eighth. In the seventh, Wong would score on a Coe RBI single, and in the eighth, Bryan Rosen pinch-ran for Chase and scored on a Billy Bodle RBI single. Bodle then scored on a Hauser single. Viking starter John Ritchie went all nine innings to pick up his third win of the season, giving up only five hits and striking out ten Beloit batters.
The next day, the Vikings headed down to Beloit for another twin bill. The first game was much of the same, the Vikings scoring first, but the bats disappearing after the first inning. LU would score its only run in the top of the first inning as Hauser walked, stole second, and scored on a Wong single. The Buccaneers would add two in the bottom of the first and one in the third off of LU pitcher Chris Clouthier. He pitched six innings in the loss, giving up three runs on six hits and striking out three. It was his first loss of the season against three wins.
The second game ended up being an offensive battle that went 11 innings. The Buccaneers got on the board first this time, with three runs in the first inning off Viking starter Hauser. LU countered back with two in the third inning as O’Toole scored on a wild pitch and Ben Webster scored on a Wong double. Beloit added one more in the bottom of the third to get a 4-2 lead. LU tried coming back, adding one run in the fourth and fifth, but Beloit added four of its own in the next three innings to lead 8-4.
The Vikings had their big inning in the top of the seventh when they scored four runs to tie the game 8-8. O’Toole started the inning by doubling, and Webster reached on an error. Wong knocked them both in with another RBI double. After a Fitzsimmons single and a Beloit pitching change, Hauser singled, scoring Wong. Butzen finished off the scoring with another single, scoring Fitzsimmons and knotting the game up at eight.
It would stay that way until the eleventh, when LU finally got the winning run across. Wong did it again for the Vikings, as he tripled and then scored on Coe’s single. Ritzer, who went six innings giving up only one run, shut down the Buccaneers in the bottom of the inning, giving LU the win 9-8. Ritzer ran his record to 3-1 on the season for the Vikings. Andrew Wong had the game of a lifetime, going 5-6 with four RBIs.
The Vikings are currently in second place in the MWC North Division and have a big series against Ripon this weekend. LU will host the Redhawks in a doubleheader this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Don Hawkins field. With a pair of wins, the Vikings could be close to clinching a playoff spot for the first time since the 1990s.