06/09/2018 10:10 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 9, 2018 – A Northwest Indiana Oilmen offense that was held to six hits or fewer in each of its first three games seems to have found its stride.
Since the slow offensive start to the season, the Oilmen have scored seven runs or more in six of their last seven, including Saturday’s 13-4 win over Bloomington.
This marked the fourth straight game the Oilmen have posted a double-figure run total. After the Oilmen watched the opposition enjoy nine-run innings four times over the past week, they decided to post one of their own on Saturday. The damage came in the seventh, turning a 4-2 Bloomington lead into an 11-4 Oilmen advantage.
“The at-bats have been extremely good for most of the guys in our lineup,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “Guys who have come on of late, like Jackson Dvorak and Nate Montgomery, have figured out some approach things at the plate. Offensively, it’s a really smart, studious group. They want to know how to get to certain results, and that’s really fun because they’ve latched on to some coaching points already in the first 10 games that have made them leaps and bounds better than they were Game 1. I’m excited to see where the rest of the summer goes with those hitters who are really open to learning and being exposed to new ideas.”
The offense had performed well each of the previous two nights, but this time the pitching staff did its part to allow the Oilmen bats to enjoy the limelight. Christian Howell (Trinity Christian College / Aurora, Ill.) became the first Oilmen pitcher to work into the eighth inning this season, going 7 2/3 while permitting four earned runs on six hits and striking out nine against one walk.
Howell (2-0) yielded four runs over the first three innings as Bloomington built up a 4-0 lead, but after that it was zero after zero. He gained the win on Saturday and has now accounted for two of the team’s three victories this season.
“He had great command of his fastball and slider all day,” Enright said. “The first time through the lineup, he threw enough sliders to make their offense mindful of it. The second and third time through, a lot of them were sitting off speed and looking for the slider, and he was beating them with fastballs in. He was able to pitch away from what they were looking for, and he executed that well.”
The Oilmen got on the board by manufacturing a third-inning run, then Jake Plastiak (Wichita State / Tinley Park, Ill.) took another bite out of the deficit in the fourth, drilling a long home run to right.
The middle portion of the game turned into a pitchers’ duel between Howell and Bloomington’s Ty Rybarczyk, who went 6 1/3 innings and allowed four earned runs on five hits. Two of those runs crossed the dish in the seventh, the inning the Oilmen knocked the starter out of the game and got into the Bloomington (4-6) bullpen. Reliever Hunter Simon (0-2) was charged with seven earned runs without recording an out in the inning, a frame that at one point saw nine straight Oilmen reach base.
The Oilmen sent 12 batters to the plate in the seventh and racked up eight hits. After the big inning and Howell’s exit, George Sherman (Dominican College / Skokie, Ill.) slammed the door, allowing two hits and no walks over 1 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out two. Sherman also went 1 1/3 scoreless on Friday against Joliet.
“Other than (Tuesday) against the Hounds, he is just a strike-throwing machine,” Enright said. “When you’re from the left side and you’ve got a little bit of funkiness in your delivery, as long as you’re in the zone and throwing two pitches that are pretty good, you can have success the first time through that lineup. I see him doing very well in that role. I think the game against the Hounds was a fluke, because he is rarely a guy who is deep in counts and walking a lot of guys.”
The Oilmen (3-7) will look to ride the momentum gained on Saturday as they host DuPage County in a doubleheader on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. CT. The two teams will play two nine-inning games with both teams airing on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live.
To view the box score, click here.