06/17/2022 11:14 PM -
Crown Point, Ind. – June 17, 2022 – Late drama has become the norm when the Northwest Indiana Oilmen and Lake County Corn Dogs get together.
The Oilmen extinguished threats in each of the final three innings to hold on for dear life in a 5-4 victory on Friday night at Legacy Fields in Crown Point. This marked the latest chapter in a season series that has featured its fair share of heart-pounders in Lake County’s inaugural Northern League campaign.
“I think the Oilmen/Corn Dogs matchup is exactly what the league needs with the DuPage County Hounds not around anymore,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “For a good nine-year stretch, the Hounds vs. Oilmen games were always really good baseball. There was not a whole lot of extracurriculars or trash talk, but just really good baseball between two teams that knew the game and played it the right way. Those games were really enjoyable to watch, and it’s refreshing that there’s something like that again.”
A dropped popup on the infield and back-to-back walks helped the Corn Dogs load the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Tyler Preissing (Aurora / Mount Prospect, Ill.) worked out of the inning unscathed. Lake County settled for one in the eighth as Nick Heiden (Aurora / Minooka, Ill.) entered the game with a run already in the bank, nobody out and a runner at first. He put out the fire by attacking the zone and notching three straight outs. Heiden allowed a run in the bottom of the ninth but nothing further as he earned the save in the one-run win.
“The main focus for us is that we were trying to get all of the guys who hadn’t thrown this week into the game,” Enright said. “We were able to do that with the exception of one player. First and foremost, we’re going to try to get everyone the experience that they need. The bright spot was obviously Nick Heiden at the end. Tyler Preissing did a nice job battling out of his inning. Those are the things that I think about as the season goes on and the games go on. I was glad that we got as many arms out there as we could in high-leverage, pressure spots.”
Kyle Czarnecki (Kankakee CC / Minooka, Ill.) started the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the first, then Joe Cosenza’s (College of DuPage / Downers Grove, Ill.) RBI double made it 2-0 in the third. Cosenza added a sacrifice fly in the fifth to make it 3-0 Oilmen, before both teams scored twice in the sixth. The Oilmen inning featured a run-scoring single by Jason Hodges (John A. Logan / Park Forest, Ill.), who finished with three hits and reached base four times.
“He’s one of those older guys who understands baseball at a really high level,” Enright said. “He understands pitch sequences, he understands approach and he understands himself and what he can and can’t do. I think one of the most beneficial things about having him around is the younger guys seeing how he changes his approach with two strikes. He’s very infectious not only with his personality, but with his play.”
Starting pitcher Jake Ostrowski (Trinity Christian / Lockport, Ill.) picked the win by allowing just two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six.
“He really focused on throwing the changeup more,” Enright said. “For whatever reason, he didn’t feel really confident with it, but it’s something that he needs in his arsenal to get more swings and misses in the zone. The slider isn’t necessarily that swing-and-miss pitch in the zone. He pitched really well with the changeup in innings three and four because he was forced to throw it more. I was really happy with the progress of that pitch.”
The Oilmen (9-9) will look to climb above the .500 mark on Monday at 5 p.m. at Dowling Park in Hammond. Brandon Vickrey, Leo Staudacher and Cavan Malayter will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Region Sports, JED-TV, AM 1230 WJOB and the Oilmen Facebook page).