By Noel Fary
The Lake County Corn Dogs surged back from a four-run deficit late against the Indiana Panthers in a winner-take-all game 3 of the Northern League Semi-Finals on Wednesday.
With the win, the Corn Dogs face the NWI Oilmen in the League Championship series beginning Thursday (Aug. 10) at Legacy Fields in Crown Point. Game time is 7 p.m. Game two of the series will be played Friday at Oil City Stadium. The teams will return to Crown Point on Saturday if a third and final playoff game is needed.
Check out the box score from the game.
Tyler Schultz Walk-Off Double in the Ninth Secures Series Win
After a dominating 19-7 win over the Panthers on Tuesday, the Corn Dogs looked to easily put the series away, but the Panthers had other plans, scoring three runs in the top of the first and setting the tone from the start.
In similar fashion to game 1 of the series, the Corn Dogs offense fell flat early, remaining scoreless through the first seven innings. With every base runner, the necessary hits evaded the Corn Dogs and kept them behind on the Panthers.
Following the three-run top of the first, Corn Dogs relief pitching came through once again, holding the Panthers’ offense to just two runs and five hits for the rest of the game.
Adam Walters, Dylan Matusak and Doug Loden came out of the bullpen ready for the Corn Dogs and continued to set up the offense for success. Finally, in the bottom of the eighth, they grabbed a spark.
The Corn Dogs got the bat on the ball and closed the lead 4-2. After the top of the ninth with the Panthers tacking on another run, the Corn Dogs needed their most improbable miracle of the season.
Ethan Nielsen, Ethan Imlach and Scott Hansen immediately loaded the bases for the Corn Dogs to start the inning, setting up the rest of the order for a big moment.
Ranko Stevanovic worked a walk, scoring one for the Corn Dogs and cut the lead to two. With the bases loaded, down by two, Tyler Schultz stepped to the plate in a situation he found himself in plenty of times this season: needing a big-time hit.
Schultz was not interested in tying the game; he wanted to win it all. He ripped a pitch down the third base line and into the corner, sending all three baserunners home and delivering his second walk off hit of the season. Schultz believed he was ready for the moment.
“I told a couple of the guys I’m ready to put barrel on the ball,” Schultz said. “And he (Manager Justin Huisman) told me I was going to do it again.”
Huisman has the utmost confidence in his team, and believes they are ready for the matchup against the Oilmen in the Championship Series.
“With the offense we have and what we’ve done in the past, we know we’re never out of a game,” Huisman said. “There’s no doubt that if we go out there and play our best baseball, we’re going to do pretty well.”