07/01/2018 10:31 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 1, 2018 – The late innings weren’t for the faint of heart on Sunday, but the Northwest Indiana Oilmen fended off a pair of Joliet rallies to gain a doubleheader sweep over the visiting Generals.
After holding on for dear life to best Joliet 3-2 in the opener, the Oilmen escaped a seventh-inning jam for a 5-2 victory in the second of two seven-inning affairs on a pitching-dominated day at Oil City Stadium.
The second game saw Jake Perreira (University of Indianapolis / Grant Park, Ill.) lead the way with three hits including a double in the fourth. He drove in a run with a fifth-inning single, part of a three-run frame that expanded the lead to five and also featured a two-run double by Cory Krolikowski (Minnesota Duluth / Bartlett, Ill.).
“Jake has progressed in terms of his comfort in the game,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “He’s been able to catch up to playing live games after coming off an injury, and he’s not letting the game move too fast for him. He can think through at-bats while he’s up there and not be overwhelmed. He’s getting his catching legs back underneath him. All of that is really good to see from him.”
The biggest factor in the Game 2 win was a strong start by Christian Howell (Trinity Christian / Aurora, Ill.), who scattered only three hits and racked up 11 strikeouts, one shy of matching the Oilmen single-game record. Howell did not issue any walks and earned the victory after six shutout innings. He has won each of his four starts and owns a 4-0 mark this season.
“Christian was really good from the beginning,” Enright said. “They had a really tough time recognizing off speed, so when he got ahead in counts he had a pretty good day spinning them off speed and getting a lot of swings and misses. He got a lot of swings as misses on pitches that started in the zone and ended up out of the zone, and a lot of takes for strike three when they started out of the zone and ended up in the zone.”
Howell’s strong showing continued a theme of quality starting pitching that began in the opener, when Max Franklin (Heartland / Chicago Heights, Ill.) struck out eight and gave up just one hit while walking three in four scoreless frames. Franklin’s strong start amounted to a no decision as he left in a scoreless game.
“He just overpowered them with fastballs,” Enright said. “He was primarily just fastball-changeup. In his four innings, he was just getting ahead with fastballs that they were late on. They fouled off a lot of balls. He was able to extend fastballs and throw fastballs in really well-placed locations for strikeouts.”
Andrew Hancock (Evansville / New Lenox, Ill.) pitched in and out of trouble in the fifth, as he walked the bases loaded but did not allow a run. He became the winning pitcher to improve to 2-0 once the Oilmen scored twice in the bottom of the fifth. The first run came on a one-out, go-ahead single by Patrick Hayes (Chicago, Ill.) to snap a scoreless tie.
“The will to win is contagious,” Enright said. “When everybody wants to come out here and take care of business, anybody can be the guy who does want we need in certain spots. If someone needs to do something to get us a win, they are in the right state of mind to figure it out.”
Brandon Petkoff (Texas A&M Corpus Christi / Frankfort, Ill.) followed with a ground ball to second that allowed another run to score. Both runners who crossed the dish had reached base on walks, making Joliet pay for back-to-back free passes to start that fifth.
The Oilmen tacked on a run in the bottom of the of the sixth as Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.) doubled and scored, a run that proved pivotal as two unearned tallies scored in the top of the seventh. Pedro Rodriguez (Tusculum / Kissimmee, Fla.) nailed down his first save of the season.
The Oilmen (16-10) will be back at it for a makeup game on Monday against the DuPage County Hounds at 7:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. It’s a Mustache Monday as any fan who sports a real or fake mustache will be admitted free of charge.