07/14/2023 12:08 PM
Hammond, IN- The Panthers came into Dowling Park ready to play their first game in three days. The Panthers also started their first doubleheader of the week and are scheduled two more in the next four days. A weird stretch of games only got more weird when the Panthers were the home team at Dowling Park.
The Panthers offense looked like it did not miss a beat as the offense generated four straight base hits in the first inning, including a RBI single by Brek Baranoski. The Panthers were able to pick up one more as a double play grounder with the bases loaded brought in a run.
Alberto Lamas got the start for the first time since July 13 where he went up against the Vikings. Lamas pitched great that game and only gave up one hit, but still was credited with the loss. Lamas picked up where he left off where he once again shut down the Vikings lineup. Lamas went five innings only allowing one run and one hit again. The only flaw for Lamas’ start was the walks as he walked four in his outing.
It was 2-1 Panthers going into the bottom of the fourth. With numerous runners on, Alijah Rainey came through with an RBI base hit up the middle to make it 3-1. The Panthers got some insurance in a game that was only scheduled to be seven innings.
Both starters' nights were done in the sixth inning as the Panthers brought in Kyle Basile. Basile got off to a poor start in his first inning of work as he gave up a single and a walk before getting a strikeout. The next ball in play was a grounder right through the legs of the shortstop Nick Signorelli which brought in the second run of the game for the Vikings. Following that, Matt Merk continued to build on his impressive RBI total as he gave the Vikings the lead with a two-RBI double. Jimmy Gurgone picked up a RBI with a base hit to make it 5-3 Vikings.
The Panthers struggled off the new arm, but finally got to Kelly and made it close in the seventh. With two outs and a runner on, Josh Lamb crushed a ball to left center field that looked like it may have had the distance to tie the game. Instead it one hopped the wall for an RBI double. Daniel Gay swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded out to end the game. The Vikings took game one 5-4.
Game two was set to be a pitching matchup of the year as two all-star pitchers were set to square off in Hunter Niksch and Nolan Vlcek. One of the two all-star pitchers was not their usual self in the second game. Unfortunately for the Panthers, that pitcher was Niksch. The Vikings were the home team for game two.
Just like the first game, the Panthers struck first. Josh Outlaw was the leadoff hitter for game two after not playing in the first game, and he got his monster night started by hitting a leadoff single. Outlaw continued to show everyone his speed as he then stole second. Not soon after, Outlaw stole third and forced a throwing error by the catcher Carrano which led to him easily scoring. Outlaw did this before the following batter’s at-bat concluded.
In the bottom of the first, Niksch hit a batter and allowed a single. With one out. Niksch got the ground ball he wanted, but Signorelli threw it away after only getting the force at second to help the Vikings tie the game.
The Panthers got their second 3-1 lead of the night in the third when Josh Outlaw hit a triple to bring in Josh Lamb and all-star Jason Ballard grounded out to second to make it 3-1. Just like last 3-1 lead, this one did not last.
The Vikings had a monster third inning as they brought 11 batters to the plate. Niksch got through the inning, but it happened after the Vikings picked up seven runs on five hits. Niksch’s night was done as his streak of great starts came to an end. He went three innings where he allowed eight runs on six hits and walked two. Six of the eight runs were earned and he struck out one. Niksch also hit four batters. The defense did not help at all as they had another poor showing as they committed three errors in the game.
Nolan Vlcek on the other hand was great again as he went the full six innings that were played and did not allow a single earned run. He struck out an impressive nine and allowed three hits. All three hits were from Josh Outlaw as he was one of the few Panther bright spots on the night. Outlaw went 3-3 on the night with an RBI and two runs scored. Outlaw also had a couple of stolen bases and incredible defensive plays in center field. Anthony Mangano was really good in relief as he went two scoreless.
The Panthers will travel to Lake County to play the Corn Dogs at 7 p.m. CT July 14 then will have a doubleheader the next two days.