06/18/2015 7:50 PM -
Lemont, Ill. – June 18, 2015 – Northwest Indiana’s run of late-inning success, streak of dominance against DuPage County and short stay in first place all came to an end on Thursday.
The Oilmen found themselves in a familiar position – chasing late in a close game – but this time they could not record the big hit in a 4-3 defeat at the paws of the Hounds.
The Oilmen had the bases loaded in the ninth with Stefano Belmonte representing the potential tying run at third base, but Zack Jones grounded into a game-ending fielder’s choice.
“We didn’t get the hit in the last inning,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “It’s one of those things where sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. We’re fortunate to be in that position every time. We’re hoping we’re going to win a lot more than we lose if we’re in that position every game.”
The Oilmen held a 3-0 lead going to the bottom of the fifth, but the Hounds clawed back into the game by scoring twice against starter Keith Mahler (Heartland / Cumberland / Highland, Ind.). Mahler received no decision, allowing two runs on four hits in five innings.
“He’s been effective the first time through the order because right out of the gate, he always commands his off-speed pitches,” Enright said. “They’re out before they know what’s going on. The second time around, they can put a plan together and know what’s going to happen.”
After scoring a pair against Mahler in the fifth, the Hounds tied the game against Sam Bell in the seventh and then snatched the lead in the eighth as Matt Wolnick cracked a double against Richard Yelnick, who took the loss to fall to 1-1.
Nick Costantino was the winning pitcher in relief for the Hounds, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Nick McKinney came on to record his second save by notching the final two outs.
Xavier Warren (Parkland / Central Oklahoma / Grandville, Ill.) ripped three hits including an RBI double to bust out of an 0-for-15 slump. His first-inning single was his first hit since June 6. Tyler Sroczynski – who batted cleanup for the first time this season after leading off in his first six games – had his first hitless game as an Oilman.
“Usually with guys like Belmonte, (Brad) Wood and (Alec) Olund in the lineup, Tyler is going to bat first because he’s a guy that gets on base and can steal bases,” Enright said. “It’s just a matter of whose turn it was to play, and that pushed him into the RBI role because of the guys in the lineup.”
The Hounds (8-3) will attempt to maintain their ½ game lead over the Oilmen on Friday when they play at Michigan City at 5 p.m.
The Oilmen (7-3) will return to the diamond on Saturday for a doubleheader at High Desert Field in Lexington. The first game gets underway at 1 p.m. and can be heard on AM 1230 WJOB and online on NWIOilmen.com.