07/31/2021 11:51 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 31, 2021 – Even Superman had Kryptonite.
During a season when the Northwest Indiana Oilmen have steamrolled the competition by winning on a record-threatening pace, the rival Southland Vikings have been seemingly the team’s lone weakness. The Vikings bested the Oilmen 14-5 on Saturday night at Oil City Stadium, their third straight win the head-to-head series.
Four of the nine Oilmen losses have come to Southland, which owns a 4-3 lead in the season series with one matchup remaining.
“Every time we face them, it feels like they have one of their best offensive days of the year,” Oilmen manager TJ Marik said. “I know there’s a past rivalry between the two teams that I don’t really care about and I know (Vikings manager) Rocco (Mossuto) doesn’t really care about because we’re two new coaches in the league, but their players come to play against us. Their offense is really good and their pitching has been awesome the last two times we’ve played them. Obviously, (starting pitcher Nolan) Vlecek is one the best arms in the MCL.”
The Oilmen drew 10 walks plus a hit batter on Saturday and managed five runs on just three hits. NWI struck first by producing a first-inning run without the benefit of a base hit, but Southland scored twice in the second and led for the game’s duration.
The Oilmen scored twice in the fourth on a two-run single by Andrew Petsche (Purdue Northwest / Oswego, Ill.) and got one in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk. The Vikings followed their two-run second with three in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth. They later scored two in the seventh and four in the eighth. The Oilmen got their final run on a “little league home run” (aka two errors) by Brandon Tyler (Grambling State / Hammond, Ind.) in the bottom of the ninth.
The Vikings (17-19) outhit the Oilmen 17-3 as the Oilmen had their chances.
“I didn’t think we did terribly on offense,” Marik said. “We had runners on base, but we didn’t hit with runners in scoring position. We put balls in play, but their defense was spectacular up until the last inning. We put balls in play to put pressure on the defense, but they made the plays.”
The Oilmen (22-9) hold a 2 ½ game lead over Joliet for the top spot in the MCL standings. They will be off on Sunday and will return to the diamond on Monday at 7:05 p.m. against the Generals at Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream, Ill. The game will be available on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey, Leo Staudacher and Kevin Redfern on the call.