07/30/2023 10:02 PM -
GRIFFITH, Ind. – With the Oilmen loss earlier today, the Southland Vikings had a chance to move into second place in the Northern League standings with less than a week to go until the playoffs. However, the Griffith Generals had other ideas. Battling back from a 3-0 deficit, the Generals stunned the Vikings on a walk-off sequence in the tenth inning, stealing the game 4-3.
Lucas Pajeau came in to pitch for Southland, but he loaded the bases with only one out. He then walked Jordan Landkrohn on four pitches to force in the tying run, but got out of the jam to force extras.
With bullpen arms running thin on both sides, Sullivan Stickann and Connor Spear agreed to use the “California tie-breaker rule” and placed a runner on second to start each half-inning. With that rule in effect, Caleb Deel had to continue his scoreless bullpen outing for the Generals with a runner aboard.
Deel got into a bit of trouble and put runners on second and third with one out, but Jordan Landkrohn stepped up big again and made an acrobatic catch in foul territory to get the second out. Deel then struck out Jimmy Gurgone to escape the inning.
It only took the Generals one pitch in their half of the tenth to walk it off. With Nick Fies placed on second, Ronnie Nowak had one mission: “Lay down a bunt to get out of here with a Gennies dub.” Nowak laid down a solid bunt on the left side of the infield that got Fies to third. The throw by Lucas Pajeau sailed over first base, and Fies came around to score and win the game. In less than 24 hours, the Generals came from behind twice to upset two of the Northern League’s playoff-bound teams.
“Good pitching all around,” said Generals manager Connor Spear after the walk-off win. “They took care of business when they needed to. They controlled the running game. It could have been a toss-up. It was a perfect bunt [by Nowak]. Great way to finish on the California rule.”
The Northern League has an off day tomorrow before the final three days of the regular season. There remain two possible playoff scenarios. If the Panthers go 3-0 and the Vikings go 0-3, the matchups would be Panthers (3) v. Oilmen (2) at Oil City Stadium and Vikings (4) v. Corn Dogs (1) at Legacy Fields. Any other scenario would result in Panthers (4) v. Corn Dogs (1) at Legacy Fields and Oilmen (3) v. Vikings (2) at Oil City Stadium. The Vikings would have “home field advantage” at Oil City Stadium since Dowling Park is unavailable for Northern League use on weekends.
The Generals remain relevant in the playoff conversation due to one simple fact: they have home games against both the Vikings and the Panthers on the last two days of the regular season. Griffith may be the team to help shuffle the entire bracket before it cements for action next weekend. Until then, the Generals have their final road game of the season against the Oilmen on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m.