07/05/2021 8:48 PM -
Hammond, Ind. – July 5, 2021 – Northwest Indiana Oilmen manager TJ Marik knows that all good things must come to an end, but that didn’t make Monday any easier to swallow.
The Oilmen saw their franchise record tying eight-game winning streak conclude with a 5-2 setback to host Southland at Riverside Park in Hammond.
“We consistently found ways to put up runs and prevent the other team from scoring for eight games,” Marik said. “During the winning streak, our pitching was spot on. We have to maintain that, because that’s how you win games – pitching and defense. Defense is one thing we need to clean up.”
Starting pitcher Brandon Laux (Kirkwood CC / Chicago, Ill.) provided a bright spot for the Oilmen, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits while striking out three and walking four in 5 1/3 innings to take the defeat.
“I have to tip my cap to Brandon Laux,” Marik said. “A lot of things didn’t go his way defensively, and offensively we had a rough day. Brandon was really good today. He was getting a little tired by the end of his outing, and that’s going to happen. The first five innings he was lights out, and that’s what I expect from him.”
Tom Conzemius (Quincy / Deerfield, Ill.) and Nick Heiden (Webster / Minooka, Ill.) combined to allow just one unearned run on two hits and one walk over a combined 2 2/3 innings of relief. The Oilmen offense mustered up just five hits and was limited to two runs despite five errors by the Vikings. Liam McKillop earned the win by yielding just one unearned run over six innings of four-hit ball, while Joe Selby nailed down the save by striking out a pair in the ninth.
“We were getting behind in counts today,” Marik said. “It felt like we were constantly 0-1 and 0-2, and you only get three strikes in an at-bat. We didn’t do a good job of barreling the ball up early in the count. We had a lot of flairs or foul balls straight back. We have to come out and attack pitches early in counts.”
One of the Oilmen runs came courtesy of one swing by Casey Kmet (Notre Dame / Arlington Heights, Ill.), who slugged an eighth-inning home run. Southland (8-13) scored in each of the first two innings and added single tallies in the fifth, sixth and eighth.
The Oilmen (11-5) will be back in action on Tuesday against the MCL Minutemen at 5:05 p.m. at Prairie State. The game will be available on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Leo Staudacher and Vince Martorano on the call.