07/28/2018 6:18 PM -
Midlothian, Ill. – July 28, 2018 – Tyler Sroczynski, you’ve got company.
Nate Montgomery (Tusculum / Geneva, Ill.) joined the Oilmen legend as the only NWI players who have launched seven home runs in a single season in Saturday’s regular season finale – a 9-6 win over the Crestwood Panthers at Howie Minas Field.
Montgomery’s blast came in the fifth inning, helping the Oilmen out to a 7-1 lead. It was the highlight of a 19-hit output that saw the Oilmen continue their recent offensive success.
“Nate jumps on mistakes,” acting Oilmen manager Matt Vitulli said. “Very few mistakes get by Nate Montgomery. I think that’s played into his success. (Manager Adam) Enright has been working with him a lot, and I think that’s shown. When he gets that 2-1 fastball, he doesn’t miss it.”
The Oilmen single-season on-base percentage record also fell in 2018, as Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.) finished with an OBP of .510. That shattered one of the franchise’s longest-standing records as the previous OBP mark of .500 had stood since the team’s inaugural season in 2012.
The Oilmen have pounded out 17 hits or more in three straight games and four of their last five.
“We’ve been consistent at the plate all week,” Vitulli said. “Hitting is contagious; when you see one guy hit a double to the gap, you go up there thinking ‘I can do that too.’ We haven’t been taking batting practice because we were getting tired at this point in the summer, and I think that’s helped us this week. We’re jumping on mistakes.”
Montgomery, Jake Perreira (University of Indianapolis / Grant Park, Ill.) and Zaid Walker (Michigan State / Flossmoor, Ill.) racked up three hits apiece to lead the way on Saturday, while all nine players in the Oilmen starting lineup had at least one base hit.
Chad Patrick (Purdue Northwest / Hebron, Ind.) was credited with the win (3-1) after three scoreless innings in which he allowed just two hits and walked one. After Crestwood crept back into the game in the middle innings, George Sherman (Dominican / Skokie, Ill.) did a strong job stemming the tide. The left-hander bounced back from his previous outing with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Sherman gave way to Pedro Rodriguez (Tusculum / Kissimmee, Fla.), who nailed down his second save of the season by notching the final three outs.
“I was impressed by George’s attitude on the mound today,” Vitulli said. “It wasn’t a roll over attitude, it was, ‘I’m going to get out of this inning and shove strikes for us.’ Sometimes George gets in trouble where he almost pounds the zone too much, but he did great today.”
Chesterton High School product Chris Torres was hit with the defeat for the Panthers (6-29) after allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits in four frames.
The Oilmen (25-18) will begin the postseason on Tuesday night as they open up a best-of-three semifinal series against the Southland Vikings.
“I’m really happy with where we are heading into the postseason,” Vitulli said. “We ended the regular season hot; we’re swinging it very well. I think that’s going to be huge in the playoffs especially after resting up with a few days off. If we keep playing the way we’ve been playing, I think we’ll be alright.”
The entire series will be played at Oil City Stadium with Tuesday’s opener slated to begin at 7:10 p.m. All tickets are available for only $5 and can be purchased now on NWIOilmen.com. For those who can’t make it out to the ballpark, Brandon Vickrey and Dan Harty will describe all the action on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live.