06/12/2022 7:56 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 11, 2022 – The last time Jake Ostrowski (Trinity Christian / Lockport, Ill.) batted on a regular basis, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen pitcher was 15 years old.
Forced into pitcher/designated hitter duties on Saturday night out of necessity, it so happened that the game rested on Ostrowski’s shoulders as he came to the plate with runners at second and third and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Oilmen trailing the Lake County Corn Dogs 5-4. Ostrowski ripped a base hit to left, plating two and sending the Oil City Stadium crowd into a frenzy after a 6-5 victory, Northwest Indiana’s second walk-off win over the Corn Dogs in three nights.
“It was crazy, I was envisioning it,” Ostrowski said. “But honestly, I was envisioning myself hitting a home run. I knew I was going to get a pitch to hit because he was trying to get me out, so I just waited on a fastball and I got a hold of it. It was crazy. I didn’t expect to do much at the plate tonight, but I wanted to get a base hit to make myself feel better. I didn’t expect to get the game-winning hit, that’s for sure.”
Ostrowski reached base three times in total, finishing his offensive day with two hits and a walk. He had not batted in a game in several years.
“For some reason, I just knew Jake was going to come through for us there,” Oilmen assistant coach Matt Vitulli said. “He had a couple of good at-bats throughout the game. He drew a walk and had a base knock before that, so I knew he was going to come through for us. This felt good; the boys needed that one.”
Ostrowski’s offensive heroics came after a solid pitching performance where he logged five innings and allowed two runs (none earned) on four hits and no walks while striking out four.
“The first inning was a little rough,” Ostrowski said. “I wasn’t locating the way I wanted to. After that, I kind of got a hold of what I wanted to do to slow the game down. From there, I just went batter to batter and didn’t try to do too much.”
Early in the game, Ostrowski was outdueled by Lake County’s Frank Plesac, who allowed one run on six hits while walking none and striking out five. But eventually, Bret Matthys took the loss after allowing three runs in 2/3 of an inning, while Jack Neikrasz (Illinois Tech / Riverside, Ill.) was the winning pitcher with 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief.
The Oilmen played in their third straight one-run game during the opening homestand and also walked off the Corn Dogs during Thursday’s home opener in what is quickly turning into a Northern League rivalry during Lake County’s inaugural season.
“I think it’s fantastic for us to be able to pull out wins late,” Ostrowski said. “It’s great to win, but to pull it off in extra innings and walk it off brings energy to the team and fires us up for future games.”
Ostrowski’s two-run single capped a three-run bottom of the ninth. The Oilmen also scored two in the eighth on a two-run single by Colin Horneman (Lincoln Trail / St. John, Ind.) to cut the lead to one before Lake County got one back in the top of the ninth. For the first six innings, the only scoring by either team was two runs in the top of the first by Lake County. The Corn Dogs added two without a hit in the seventh when they benefited from a walk and two hit batters.
CJ Deshazer (Northwood / Hanover Park, Ill.) and Chris Baker (Trinity Christian / South Holland, Ill.) had three hits apiece. Baker doubled twice, including to lead off the sixth inning when he was eventually cut down trying to tag and score on a fly ball to shallow center for an F82 double play to keep the Oilmen off the board.
The Oilmen have an off day on Sunday before returning to action on Monday night at 7 p.m. against the Joliet Generals at Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream, Ill. Leo Staudacher and Adam Oppenheim will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live.