06/04/2021 9:56 PM -
Hammond, Ind. – June 4, 2021 – Aaron Cook (Roosevelt / Hammond, Ind.) was a key contributor in more ways than one on Friday evening at Riverside Park in Hammond.
Cook’s efforts helped the Northwest Indiana Oilmen fend off a comeback try by the host MCL Minutemen to earn an 11-9 triumph. The NWI designated hitter launched the first Oilmen home run of the season to straightaway center in the fifth, then he made an unexpected contribution when he came on to nail down a two-pitch save in the bottom of the ninth as the Minutemen stranded the tying run at second.
The Oilmen (2-1) led 10-2 in the eighth and 11-4 going to the bottom of the ninth, but the Minutemen (1-3) rallied to score five times in the final frame and had the potential tying run in scoring position and potential winning run on base. Cook induced a game-ending fly ball to center to help pick up teammate Mason Kasprisin (St. Charles / Joliet, Ill.), who allowed five earned runs on four walks, two hit batters and two hits in 2/3 of an inning.
“Things got super interesting at the end there,” Oilmen manager TJ Marik said. “We had trouble commanding the zone and throwing strikes, but Mason did get two huge outs while batting adversity. You have to tip your cap to Aaron Cook as someone who doesn’t really pitch to come in and get the job done in two pitches. Mason’s pitch count was getting up there, and we could see him struggling. When I see it get to a point where confidence could possibly go down, that’s when you have to make a switch. Aaron Cook has a lot of confidence, and he came in there and did his job."
Jimmy Carey (St. Charles / Tinley Park, Ill.) went 3-for-5 to lead a nine-hit attack for the Oilmen, while AJ Wright (Northwood / Griffith, Ind.) notched his third consecutive multi-hit output.
“AJ Wright is on a tear right now,” Marik said. “The first game I put him in the nine hole, and he impressed us. We moved him up to the leadoff spot, and how could you take him out right now? He’s finding a bunch of barrels, and we love the way he’s running the bases. When he gets on base, everybody on the field is worried that he’s on first base. That goes with a lot of our lineup, but AJ especially the last couple days.”
The Oilmen jumped in front with two runs on three hits in the opening inning, then added three in the second by taking advantage of five walks. NWI got one in the fourth before Cook led off the fifth with a solo shot to highlight what turned into a three-run frame. The Minutemen committed five errors and the Oilmen capitalized with unearned runs in the seventh and ninth innings, insurance tallies that proved pivotal when the hosts mounted their late comeback.
The 3-hour, 36-minute game started with three clean innings from NWI lefty Jacob Bimbi (Wabash Valley / Crystal Lake, Ill.), who did not allow a hit or a walk while striking out six and hitting two batters. He earned the victory in his Oilmen debut.
“Jacob Bimbi is the real deal,” Marik said. “He’s got good stuff, and he told me he threw too many balls for his liking today. That’s great to hear because he had two HBPs and no walks. He did a great job in his three innings and attacked their hitters. The hitters did a pretty good job working counts, and he battled and won every one of those battles.”
The Oilmen will have a few days off before opening the home slate on Tuesday, June 8 at 7:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium against the Crestwood Panthers. Tickets are available on NWIOilmen.com. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Jon Zaghloul will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network.