06/07/2014 4:54 PM -
Michigan City, Ind. – June 7, 2014 – Historically, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen have been known as a team that manufactures runs rather than one that hits for power.
However, it was the long ball that helped the Oilmen rebound from back-to-back losses by edging the Michigan City Lakers 5-4 on Saturday afternoon.
With the Oilmen already leading 1-0, James Meeker rocketed one over the right field fence for the first NWI home run of the season. Later on, it was Andrew Ray who matched Meeker’s feat, leading off the sixth with a solo blast to put the Oilmen back in front 3-2.
“It’s a small field and it helped to put some insurance on the board and get us ahead,” Oilmen manager Justin Huisman said. “We’re still going to manufacture and do all of those things to score runs, but right now it’s about getting reps and improving upon their mechanics out there.”
Meeker’s home run came against Michigan City starter Casey Young, who went five innings and received no decision.
“It’s huge,” Meeker said. “A home run gets everyone going. Everyone gets excited for it and it just gives you a lot of confidence.”
When reliever Michael Schroeder entered the game for the sixth, he was greeted rudely by Ray’s long ball.
“I knew it was a new pitcher coming into the game, so I was looking for a fastball,” Ray said. “He got behind in the count and I figured he was going to try to throw a fastball for a strike. He threw one right down the middle.”
Oilmen starter Cameron Linck picked up the victory to improve to 2-0 on the season. He went five innings and allowed two runs, both of which came in the fourth. Greg Tolliver started the frame with a solo home run before Schroeder doubled and eventually scored on a Mark Dye grounder.
Michigan City scored twice more against Nick Nauracy in the eighth inning, which featured a Schroeder solo blast. After Zach Thorn’s sacrifice fly trimmed the lead to one, Nauracy struck out Spencer Sutton to retire the side.
Closer Matt Pobereyko was summoned from the Oilmen bullpen to work the ninth, nailing down his third save of the season. Ray, who caught the game for the Oilmen, was impressed by what he saw from the pitching staff in the victory.
“Cameron’s got a nasty hook; his curveball’s very good,” Ray said. “He commanded the zone really well. Nauracy has a lot of movement on his fastball, so it’s hard to catch, but he was pounding the zone. Matt’s always good for us at the end of the game.”
Ryan Burvan enjoyed a three hit day at the plate. He drove in an insurance run in the eighth inning to give the Oilmen a two-run lead before coming around to score another tally that eventually proved to be the difference in the game.
The Oilmen are back to .500 at 4-4 overall, while the Lakers drop to 5-4 with the defeat. Northwest Indiana continues nonleague play on Tuesday night by hosting the Illinois Sparks at 7:10 at Oil City Stadium in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
The Oilmen have a weekend filled with special events planned as Thursday, June 12 will be Strikeout ALS Night followed by Zombie Apocalypse on Friday, Super Heroes Night on Saturday and Father’s Day on Sunday. All four games begin at 7:10 p.m.