By Andrew Mild
Once again the Lake County Corn Dogs were trailing late in the game and pulled out the victory, this time over the Southland Vikings, 4-3, at Legacy Fields on Sunday.
The Corn Dogs remain atop of the Northern League with a 7-1 record, beating the only team they had lost to in the young season, behind the pitching of Frank Plesac.
The Vikings scored first on lead-off hitter Darrius Little’s single. His second RBI came via a fifth inning sacrifice fly to drive in A.J. Taylor, making the score 2-0. In the third inning, Blaze Cano laced a double into left center that sent George Bilecki home to extend their lead 3-0.
The comeback Corn Dogs got on the board in the bottom of the eighth when Jake Ferry crushed the ball into right to score Bret Matthys. Ferry then stole second base and Cal “The Cardiac Kid” Curiel picked up a huge two-RBI single into left field to tie the game 3-3.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Corn Dogs got a lead-off bunt single from Colin Small. Prior to that pitch, Small was in pain shaking his hand, believing he had been struck by the pitch. The home plate umpire saw it differently, ruling the ball struck the bat first. Manager Justin Huisman vigorously questioned the call, and then called for the bunt, which seemingly surprised the Vikings’ defense.
“Colin was in a lot of pain, but the umpire called it a foul ball and I just wanted to understand how the ball could hit the bottom of the bat when the top of his hand was hurting,” Huisman said in his post-game news conference. “I politely disagreed, and luckily Colin was able to stay in there and put a nice bunt down and get us going.”
After Gavin Terry walked and an intentional pass to Tyler Schultz, the bases were loaded for Roman Kuntz. With the count 3-2, Kuntz took ball four, and the winning run came home. The Dogs’ seventh consecutive win sparked an on-field celebration with Kuntz on the receiving end of the water cooler shower.
While Huisman loves the comeback wins, he’d rather see his team start putting up more runs earlier in the game to take the pressure off.
“It would be nice if we’d start jumping out and scoring some runs early instead of waiting until the seventh inning, but luckily we’re 7-1, and we’re not even playing our best baseball yet,” he said. “So that’s kind of scary for the rest of the league and kind of exciting for us.”
The Corn Dogs will be back home on Tuesday as part of a 13-game stretch that will test their ability to stay rested and focused.
“We have a ton of the depth and need to make sure that we have enough guys (pitchers) to cover the innings,” Huisman said. “I know that no matter who’s out there we’ve got a chance to win. That that’s the mark of a special team.”
Monday’s game called off
Due to inclement weather, Monday’s Lake County Corn Dogs game versus the Crestwood Panthers is cancelled.
Photo caption: Manager Justin Huisman argues a controversial call against Colin Small.
Photo by Josh Brunette