07/07/2018 10:57 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 7, 2018 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen offense was in business throughout the evening on Saturday at Oil City Stadium, but several opportunities slipped away in an eventual defeat to the Joliet Generals.
The game’s big blow came in the top of the seventh, when Christian Howell (Trinity Christian / Aurora) left with two outs and two on with the Oilmen clinging to a 3-2 lead. Manager Adam Enright inserted a left-handed reliever, who yielded a three-run homer to left-handed batting Brett Stratinsky, the first batter following Howell’s exit. The go-ahead blow put Joliet on top 5-3, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“The first factor is that Howell was at 101 pitches,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “You can tell that he was starting to labor with nothing left in the tank. In my mind, the lefty on lefty was good in that situation. It didn’t work out, but I would have made that move in that situation 10 times out of 10. I wanted to match up against a left-handed batter who has swung the bat well against us all year.”
Since he was charged with two of the runs on the three-run homer, Howell was hit with a tough-luck loss, dropping to 4-1 after allowing four runs on six hits while striking out five and walking three in 6 2/3 innings.
The Oilmen (17-14) had grabbed the lead on an RBI single by Eric Yachinich (Minnesota Duluth / Ashland, Wis.) in the third. When Joliet (10-15) tied it with a run in the fifth, the Oilmen responded to regain the advantage with two in the bottom of the inning. Yachinich drove in another with a bases-loaded walk, then Tom Kelley (Miami of Ohio / Orland Park, Ill.) added an RBI single.
The game went haywire late as the Oilmen had several key opportunities that were hindered by outs on the base paths.
“Those plays were in times that robbed our offense, which has been doing a really good job, of a chance to put ourselves right back in the game on one swing of the bat,” Enright said. “Running ourselves out of an inning on a double play, trying to steal third base with a left-handed batter up with two outs, stretching a double into a triple with a four-run deficit into the ninth – we robbed ourselves of opportunities to swing the bat and get back in the game. We’ve hit the mid-July dog days where at times our baseball intelligence goes out the window because of the grind of the summer.”
The offense continued to thrive as the Oilmen pounded out 12 hits.
“It’s the same thing we’ve always done at the plate,” Enright said. “We did damage on pitches that were in on us and hit a lot of balls to the middle of the field really hard. We made a lot of hard outs. Offensively, I’m happy. That’s what we should do against pretty much everybody – we came out and swung the bats well.”
The Oilmen’s best chance to grab the lead late came in the eighth inning, when they left the bases loaded. Joliet tacked on three insurance runs in the top of the ninth to account for the final margin. Brenden Butler (Upper Iowa / Oak Lawn, Ill.) had three hits, while Kelley and Cory Krolikowski (Minnesota Duluth / Bartlett, Ill.) chipped in two apiece.
The Oilmen will be back in action on Sunday at 1 p.m. when they host the Bloomington Bobcats for a doubleheader. Tickets can be purchased on NWIOilmen.com. The games will be available on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey and Dan Harty on the call.