07/23/2022 8:22 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 22, 2022 – When the Northwest Indiana Oilmen are trailing by a run going to the bottom of the ninth inning, it’s to the point where fans know what will happen next.
And it never gets old.
For the sixth time this season, the Oilmen prevailed in walk-off fashion, this time surviving being down to their final out to beat the Joliet Generals 8-7 on Friday night at Oil City Stadium. Josh Cunniff (St. Charles CC / Chicago, Ill.) tied the game with a two-out single before Kyle Tyler (Valparaiso / Alsip, Ill.) worked a walk-off walk to send the home fans home happy.
“It was important to get the leadoff runner on base,” Enright said. “Cain Headrick had really good at-bats and swung at good pitches. He put the ball in play and placed it in the six hole in a tough spot. David Marshall is probably the best guy on our team handling the bat. He bunts for a hit that ends up being a worst-case scenario being a sacrifice bunt, and then Josh Cunniff had a big hit the other way, understanding that the strike zone was big on the outer half of the plate and going with the pitch to tie the game.”
The Oilmen took a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh in a seesaw affair thanks to more clutch two-out hitting. David Marshall (College of DuPage / Downers Grove, Ill.) turned a nine-pitch at-bat into a game-tying single, and eventually Kyle Czarnecki (Kankakee CC / Minooka, Ill.) singled home the go-ahead run before a wild pitch scored one more.
“The Marshall at-bat was probably the most important at-bat of the game,” Enright said. “With two strikes, he fouled off a bunch of pitches and ended up getting a broken bat single into right field. That really ignited us and made us feel like we could string some things together and score some runs. If I had to pinpoint one spot in the game that really lifted everybody up, it was the Marshall at-bat.”
The lead shifted back and forth throughout the evening. The Oilmen struck first as they were handed two unearned runs in the bottom of the first thanks to three Joliet errors, and then neither team scored until the Generals tied the game with two in the fifth. The Oilmen pushed across a run in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead at 3-2.
The game went haywire over the final three innings with Joliet going up 4-3 by scoring twice in the seventh, the Oilmen jumping ahead 6-4 with the three-run bottom of the seventh, the Generals grabbing a 7-6 lead with three in the eighth and the Oilmen winning it with two in the ninth. The game featured six lead changes.
Jack Zebig (Maryville / Plainfield, Ill.) was on base three times, Czarnecki posted three hits and Cunniff had two.
“Regardless of some of the outcomes that we’ve had this week, those at-bats out of those guys who we will rely on at the end of the year and in the playoffs makes us the most prepared in the league,” Enright said. “We typically see everybody’s best arms in the biggest spots, and we see that day in and day out. That prepares us for postseason at-bats when we’ll be seeing those same pitchers.”
The Oilmen (20-17) reached the 20-win threshold and picked up a crucial game in the league standings, as the Generals (18-18) were on the precipice of overtaking NWI for third place in the Northern League.
The Oilmen will host the Crestwood Panthers on Saturday night at 6:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. It’s Super Hero Night as anyone who dresses as their favorite superhero will get in free, have a chance to win Oilmen prizes and will be on the field before the game. Tickets are available now on NWIOilmen.com. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Joshua Lipowski will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, available via Facebook Live, AM 1230 WJOB, JED-TV and Region Sports.