06/09/2022 11:40 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 9, 2022 – When CJ Deshazer (Northwood / Hanover Park, Ill.) played baseball in his backyard growing up and imagined himself with a walk-off hit, this probably wasn’t the type of hit that he had in mind.
But it was a walk-off hit nonetheless, as a flair to the left side of the infield fell in front of the Lake County Corn Dogs shortstop for a walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, helping the Northwest Indiana Oilmen prevail 9-8 in the home opener at Oil City Stadium.
“It was nice to play some exciting baseball where guys were getting into the game,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “You felt a team in the dugout coming together to try to win a game. Early in the summer, that’s what you wait for. It’s not just a bunch of guys sitting around waiting for their at-bats. Now they’re getting to know each other, and we’ve played a couple of close games. That brings us together as a unit.”
The Corn Dogs (8-3) jumped on the board first in the opening inning with a pair of hits. A key passed ball moved the runner into scoring position prior to the second hit and caused the run to be unearned. After that, Oilmen starter Matt Lelito (Toledo / St. John, Ind.) threw shutout baseball for the next four frames until he permitted a three-run homer by Roman Kuntz in the sixth. The Oilmen starter received no decision and allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits, nine strikeouts and two walks.
The Oilmen grabbed the lead with a six-run bottom of the first as Lake County starting pitcher Brock Bevil issued six walks and couldn’t make it out of the inning, tossing just 2/3 of a frame. The Oilmen had just one hit in the inning – a two-run single by Joe Cosenza (College of DuPage / Downers Grove, Ill.) past the third baseman – and all six runs were unearned due to an E5. The inning actually started with two outs and nobody on base before eight straight Oilmen reached base.
After getting back in the game with a three-run homer in the sixth, the Corn Dogs put up another three-spot in the seventh to tie the game at seven. A walk, stolen base and passed ball set the stage for a run-scoring single in the sixth by Sabastian Cabeza (Black Hawk / Aurora, Ill.), then in the seventh the Oilmen played small ball again to regain the lead at 8-7. Josh Mosley (Triton / Chicago, Ill.) walked, stole second, advanced to third on an error and then stole home on the back end of a double steal to produce the go-ahead run.
The Oilmen had just six hits – and only one went for extra bases – but the team continued to show an ability to manufacture runs, something that could remain a theme for NWI throughout the season.
“I knew that would be our style coming into the year,” Enright said. “But I don’t know that our players all knew that, but they see that now. They see the value of drawing walks and taking an extra base without having a hit. Those things play quite large in the grand scheme of the game. If we’re going to be out here for three hours playing a baseball game, we might as well do those things to win.”
Jake Paymaster (Triton / New Lenox, Ill.) picked up the win in relief with 2 1/3 innings of one-run, three-hit ball. The victory helped the Oilmen (5-6) get within striking distance of the .500 mark.
“We have to continue to manage the bullpen in a way that puts us in the best spot to win the close games,” Enright said. “It’s my desire to get everybody in the games, but I know everybody out here wants to win, and they would rather see pitchers out there that give us the best chance to do that. It’s also important for us to continue to have the opportunities to get better before the games start with what we do in preparation.”
NWI will host the Joliet Generals on Friday at 7:10 p.m. on Rock ‘n Roll Night at Oil City Stadium. Tickets are available now on NWIOilmen.com. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Leo Staudacher will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live, JED-TV, Region Sports and AM 1230 WJOB.