07/30/2021 11:44 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 30, 2021 – It’s hard to play much better than the Northwest Indiana Oilmen did on Friday night at Oil City Stadium.
The Oilmen came within an out of tying a franchise record for margin of victory (17), but settled for a 17-1 rout of the MCL Minutemen. The Oilmen banged out nine extra-base hits, played errorless defense and drew 11 walks in the victory.
NWI (22-8) has clinched a playoff berth for the 10th consecutive season and will finish above .500 for the 10th straight year. The franchise has never endured a losing season nor missed the postseason.
“We did a good job of knowing the strike zone today,” Oilmen manager TJ Marik said. “We were being very selective and getting our pitches to drive. If it was a half of a ball out of the zone, we were taking it and getting those calls. That was huge and led to a lot of runs scored.”
Christian Williams (Michigan State / Carmel, Ind.) provided a two-run double to highlight a three-run first, then continued his day by launched a three-run homer to left in the eighth to represent the final three runs of the night for NWI. The Oilmen catcher scored twice in addition to his five RBIs.
“At the beginning of the season, Christian was a guy who was just barely missing pitches,” Marik said. “I vividly remember balls that he would just miss or pop straight up. Now, he is absolutely torching balls. It’s good to see the progress he’s made over the summer. The balls that he was just missing a couple weeks ago are now hard hit, like the two balls he hit today.”
Kevin McCormick (Evansville / Orland Park, Ill.) also continued to impress, reaching base four times and finishing a home run shy of the cycle. As a team, the Oilmen belted five doubles, three triples and the Williams home run.
“Kevin is one of those guys who plays extremely hard,” Marik said. “He brings energy and has fun. He finds a way to get on base no matter what, whether it’s finessing a two-strike hit where he flicks one to the opposite field, or if it’s a barrel to left-center where he gets a double out of it. He’s a good hitter, especially for an incoming freshman.”
Starting pitcher Jacob Bimbi (Wabash Valley / Crystal Lake, Ill.) worked around five walks in 2 2/3 scoreless innings to garner the win and up his record to 4-1 in his final outing of the summer season as he is set to return to school. The bullpen did a strong job, highlighted by 3 1/3 scoreless frames of one-hit ball from Nolan Lorenz (IU South Bend / LaPorte, Ind.), who struck out six and worked out of a jam after entering the game in the top of the third. The Minutemen had their chances but stranded the bases loaded twice early in the game and totaled 10 left on base.
“The pitching staff did a great job today,” Marik said. “Our walk number was up a little bit, but it was OK because our pitchers showed the confidence to prevent those runs from scoring. Nolan had a really good day and threw strikes. When he’s in the zone, he’s tough to hit.”
Mike Carey (John A. Logan / Tinley Park, Ill.) and Jacob Ferry (Morehead State / Aurora, Ill.) also had two hits apiece and Ferry’s day featured a bases-clearing double in the second. AJ Wright (Northwood / Griffith, Ind.) made a leaping catch to snare a line-drive rocket to short in the top of the third that turned into a double play. Third baseman Casey Kmet (Notre Dame / Arlington Heights, Ill.) also captured a line drove and doubled off a Minutemen runner as the Oilmen played stout defensively throughout the evening.
NWI scored three in the first, four in the second, one in the third, two in the fifth, four in seventh and three in the eighth. The Oilmen were out away from tying the franchise record of 17 for margin of victory, leading 17-0 with two outs in the top of the ninth, but a two-out hit by MCL’s Mike Koszewski plated the first Minutemen (8-24) run and trimmed the gap to 16. The franchise record for margin of victory came in a 20-3 win over Southland at Hap Bruno Field in 2018.
Joliet also prevailed on Saturday, so the Oilmen lead remains three games over the Generals for the top spot in the MCL. The Oilmen hold a .733 winning percentage, which is currently on pace to shatter the league record for winning percentage set by the 2013 DuPage County Hounds (.706) and the franchise record for winning percentage set last season (.686).
The Oilmen (22-8) will host Southland on Saturday night at 7:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. Tickets will be available prior to the game at the stadium box office. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Jack Theil will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, available on AM 1230 WJOB and JED-TV.