07/25/2018 11:13 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 25, 2018 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen wasted no time in finding another way to make club history during Wednesday’s regular season home finale at Oil City Stadium.
The Oilmen plated 11 runs in the opening inning in an eventual 19-6 win to nail down the season series over Joliet. Northwest Indiana matched a franchise record for runs in a single inning that had stood since an 11-run frame against the Rockford Foresters on July 23, 2013.
“We needed a night like this,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “We were pumped up yesterday, and then when we let the game get away from us, it took the wind out of our sails. Guys were obviously not having fun yesterday, so coming in and doing that right off the bat today reenergized us and put us back in good spirits.”
A three-run bomb by Hunter Thorn (Purdue Northwest / Portage, Ind.) was the highlight of the marathon inning. Joliet starter Jordan Baker retired only one batter and made an early departure after allowing seven runs on four hits and three walks.
The Thorn long ball was one of three times on the night where the Oilmen plated three runs with one swing of the bat. Chris Baker (Trinity Christian / South Holland, Ill.) unloaded a bases-clearing double, as did Zaid Walker (Michigan State / Flossmoor, Ill.).
“When you have extra-base hits, there’s less to it,” Enright said. “You can’t mess up a home run: You can’t have a base running error and you don’t have to manufacture anything. Extra-base hits provide instant offense. It’s hard for extra-base hits to not factor into the outcome of a game unless you’re absolutely not giving up any baserunners as a pitcher. How often do you hear somebody talk about a single in the third inning changing a game? It’s all about extra-base hits.”
Tyler Kenjic (Purdue Northwest / Hobart, Ind.) had his second straight solid offensive performance as he joined Baker as the two Oilmen players with three hits on Wednesday.
Joliet hit the ball well in the second inning against Oilmen starter Alex Voss (Butler / South Bend, Ind.) as the Generals scored four times, but the Oilmen batted around for the second time in the first three innings with a six-run third, opening up the lead to 17-4.
The offensive outburst allowed Voss to earn the win and improve to 4-0 despite not having his best stuff. He was touched for five earned runs and walked three while yielding nine hits over six frames.
The lopsided score allowed the Oilmen to turn to position players on the mound for the third time in the last four nights. Jackson Dvorak (Missouri St. Louis / New Lenox, Ill.) showed significant improvement from his first pitching performance of the season, yielding one run over three innings while permitting three hits, walking one and striking out three. By virtue of throwing three quality innings of relief to finish a game, Dvorak was awarded the save. Position players eating innings on the mound has become a key theme for the Oilmen.
“Our players are competitive,” Enright said. “Just like pitchers always talk about how good they would hit if given the opportunity, the position players do the same thing. When we give them that opportunity, they get pumped up and get a lot of adrenaline going. They’ve been able to harness that and turn it into throwing strikes and getting outs.”
The Oilmen (23-18) have clinched a playoff berth and have nailed down a winning record for the seventh consecutive season. The victory coupled with Bloomington’s loss to Southland allows the Oilmen to build a commanding four-game lead for third place with four to play. NWI remains two games in back of Southland for second.
The Oilmen round out the regular season with four straight on the road starting on Thursday against DuPage County at 5 p.m. at the Lemont Sports Complex. Brandon Vickrey and Dan Harty will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live.