07/23/2020 11:10 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 23, 2020 – An unfavorable tone was established from the outset and was only a sign of things to come for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Thursday night.
The top of the first inning started with a “little league home run” to lead off the game on a play that featured two Oilmen errors. It was that type of night for the Oilmen, who committed a franchise-record nine errors in a 12-4 setback to visiting Crestwood.
“We’ve got to find a way to come with an edge early in games,” Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham said. “It’s been a trend – we keep starting slow. Our players need to do a mirror check and have a better mindset to start games. We can’t throw balls around. That’s just the way it has to be – you’ve got to make plays and throw the ball accurately.”
The Panthers (9-9) extended their winning streak to five and upped their record to .500 while earning their second victory in as many tries at Oil City Stadium this season. Manager Isaac Valdez’s team received quality pitching throughout the evening as starter Brady Miller (1-0) earned the win with 3 2/3 shutout frames of one-hit ball.
Crestwood jumped on the board with three in the opening inning before eventually opening up a 9-0 lead with three in the top of the seventh. The Oilmen (11-5) scratched out their first run in the seventh on an RBI double by Tre’ Hondras (Michigan / Flossmoor, Ill.), then they plated three in the eighth including a two-run double by Tommy Windt (South Suburban / Orland Park, Ill.).
After the Oilmen had trimmed the lead to five, Ray Hilbrich delivered a bases-clearing double in the top of the ninth to boost the cushion back to eight.
Every player in the Northwest Indiana lineup reached base, and Hondras, Angelo Cantelo (Lewis / Blue Island, Ill.) and Andre Demetral (Florence Darlington / Rochester, Mich.) had two hits apiece.
Joe Rotkis (Morehead State / Granger, Ind.) started and threw five innings while allowing five runs (two earned) on eight hits, no walks and three strikeouts. He took the defeat to sink to 0-2. Will Melby (Iowa Western / Munster, Ind.) was a bright spot as he did not allow a hit and walked one in his scoreless inning out of the bullpen. The Oilmen pitching staff did issue eight walks.
“I thought Rotkis threw well,” Cunningham said. “He kept his pitch count relatively low despite everything that was happening defensively. It was time to get him out and get some other pitchers some work. Our pitchers need to throw more strikes than they did tonight, but first and foremost we’ve got to play better defense behind them.”
The Oilmen will attempt to bounce back on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. as the MCL Minutemen come to town. It’s a $2 Miller Lite Pint Night with $2 Miller Lite drafts available at the stadium concession stand. Tickets can be purchased by visiting NWIOilmen.com. The game will be broadcast on Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey and Ryan Zimmerman on the call.