07/14/2022 9:34 PM -
Hammond, Ind. – July 14, 2022 – If five or more pitchers take the mound for a team in a Northern League game, often times at least one will struggle.
But the Northwest Indiana Oilmen have pieced together quality pitching performances by utilizing an array of arms on a regular basis this season. The latest example came on Thursday evening, as the Oilmen opened the post All-Star Break portion of the season with a 6-4 victory over the Southland Vikings at Dowling Park in Hammond.
Starter Silas Noe (Waubonsee / Wilmette, Ill.) worked four solid innings of one-run ball while scattering five hits and issuing two walks. He gave way to a deep Oilmen bullpen as Chris Seropian (Lake Land / Chicago, Ill.) permitted two runs (one earned) over two frames to earn the win before Logan Strutz (Triton / Lockport, Ill.), Mike Bernas (Saint Leo / Orland Park, Ill.) and Nick Heiden (Aurora / Minooka, Ill.) each tossed scoreless innings with Heiden nailing down the save.
“Mapping out the pitching plan gives everybody a better sense of what their day is going to look like rather than going off the flow of the game or going off the situation in the game,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “When we map it out, our guys do a good job taking care of their inning or two innings.”
The Oilmen jumped out to an early lead on a two-out RBI single by Jack Zebig (Maryville / Plainfield, Ill.) in the top of the first before the Vikings evened the score with a run in the third. Southland jumped in front with two in the fifth, but the Oilmen eventually regained the lead thanks to a three-run seventh inning. That included a go-ahead bases-loaded walk by Kyle Czarnecki (Kankakee CC / Minooka, Ill.). NWI added two insurance runs in the top of the eighth on a run-scoring single by Justin Egan (Black Hawk / Orland Park, Ill.) and a sacrifice fly by David Marshall (College of DuPage / Downers Grove, Ill.). Those runs proved to be the difference in the game as Southland scored a run in the bottom of the eighth.
The Oilmen continued to find ways to produce runs without banging the ball around the yard, as they scored six times on a day where eight of their nine hits were singles.
“Leadoff baserunners are key,” Enright said. “We had a handful of leadoff singles and a couple leadoff walks. Those create opportunities to get around the bases without having to string five hits together. Stealing second base is huge, and we did that a few times today. We had a couple of good situational at-bats. Chazz Clark had one where he moved a runner to third base with less than two outs. That puts the pressure on them to not have the luxury of throwing off speed in order to prevent balls from going to the backstop with runners on third base.”
Joe Cosenza (College of DuPage / Downers Grove, Ill.) had a big day with three hits, while Tylor Phommachanhom (Dayton / Joliet, Ill.) collected two hits. The victory was crucial in the standings as the Oilmen (19-15) gained a game on the Vikings (20-13) and pulled to within a game and a half of Southland for second place in the Northern League standings.
“With the playoff format being what it is, being the home team in the semifinal round is really important,” Enright said. “We hope to continue to make up some ground, and we see them for back-to-back games at home in two weeks, so that will hopefully determine who gets second place.”
The Oilmen will visit the Chicago American Giants on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Kroc Center on Chicago’s south side. Leo Staudacher and James Doerer will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, available via Region Sports, AM 1230 WJOB, JED-TV and Facebook Live.