07/26/2018 7:55 PM -
Lemont, Ill. – July 26, 2018 – As the Midwest Collegiate League playoff picture becomes increasing clear, the remaining regular season contests have turned into tune-ups for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
And it sure looked like a batting practice session on Thursday night at the Lemont Sports Complex as the Oilmen downed the DuPage County Hounds 16-6 behind 18 hits and a pair of five-run innings.
The Oilmen did not take batting practice prior to their games on Monday, Wednesday or Thursday this week, and evidently they saved their swings for the games. Northwest Indiana won all three of those contests and scored 14 runs or more in each.
“When we get into a playoff situation and find ourselves in a two- or three-run deficit, we feel like that’s a very achievable goal to string together that many runs in an inning, even if it gets late in a game,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “This gives us a lot of confidence that we can have multiple-run innings at any time. That’s nice going into the postseason because a deficit won’t make us tighten up and change anything.”
The Hounds (30-13) strung together five singles to accumulate three runs in the bottom of the second. The Oilmen (24-18) trailed 3-1 until a go-ahead three-run homer by Zaid Walker (Michigan State / Flossmoor, Ill.) rearranged the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. A two-out, nobody on base situation turned into a game tying run after a Hound rally in the fourth leveled the score at four.
The Oilmen offense did its best work in the late innings, scoring five times in the sixth and five more in the seventh before a two-run eighth rounded out the scoring. Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.) had yet another strong showing at the dish, racking up four hits and driving in four runs. All nine players in the Oilmen lineup had hits, six of them had multi-hit games and Nate Montgomery (Tusculum / Geneva, Ill.) rammed three doubles.
The Oilmen smoked seven two-baggers and eight extra-base knocks in the victory.
“Over the course of the season, we’ve gotten better at taking advantage of hitter’s pitches and maximizing the damage,” Enright said. “We’re not just hitting ground ball singles up the middle when we get pitches to hit, we’re hitting home runs and doubles. We had a lot of extra-base hits today, and it’s been like that throughout the week.”
Brendan Kelly (Purdue Northwest / Grandville, Mich.) gained the win after allowing four runs on nine hits in five innings to improve to 2-0. Zac Bianucci was on the other end of the decision, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The Oilmen bullpen did its job in a lopsided affair, particularly Pedro Rodriguez (Tusculum / Kissimmee, Fla.), who cruised through two scoreless frames.
“In games late in the season with the playoff picture set, you get to a point in games where the other team starts to phone it in,” Enright said. “The silver lining of that is that our hitters didn’t give away any at-bats once the other team conceded the game. We put good at-bats together and kept hitting line drives and doubles and moving around the bases.”
The Oilmen will be back in action on Saturday at noon CT as they clash with the Crestwood Panthers. The game will be carried live on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey, Dan Harty and Crestwood’s Ryan Zimmerman on the call.