06/22/2015 1:25 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 24, 2015 – Oilmen pitcher Jimmy Skiff answered the call from manager Adam Enright on Wednesday in both a literal and figurative sense
When Enright dialed Skiff’s number with news that he would be pressed into duty for an emergency start at 2 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, Skiff was there to pick up the phone. Five hours later, he answered the call again, this time by tossing seven scoreless innings to guide the Oilmen to a 1-0 win over Joliet.
Skiff, an Andrean graduate and current pitcher at Purdue Calumet, yielded five hits and struck out five while issuing no walks in Wednesday’s outing. He received the last-minute start after Keith Mahler was scratched with an eye infection.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but once Coach called me and asked me to start, I said, ‘I’m good to go,” Skiff said. “It felt good to get another start after being in the ‘pen for so long. Joe (Jumonville) called a great game. He knew exactly what to pitch each time. All I had to worry about was executing it. The defense did their part, too.”
Two of the most memorable plays from the Oilmen defense came on assists from the corner outfielders. Fred Smart gunned down a runner at second base who was trying to stretch a single into a double on a deep drive to right, before right fielder Jordan Lewis unloaded a strike to third in the eighth to cut down a runner who was trying to go from first to third on a single.
Brad Wood played a pivotal role in Wednesday’s win in more ways than one. He scored the only run of the game in the fourth inning. Wood singled to start the frame, advanced to second on a wild pitch, moved up to third on a Stefano Belmonte fly ball to center and then crossed the dish on a RBI bouncer by Lewis.
Wood’s other key contribution came in the ninth inning, when he was called upon to latch down the save in his first pitching appearance of the season. Wood pitched in three games and tossed four innings this spring at Northern Illinois.
“I tried to shy away from (using Wood as a pitcher) in the summer because it’s a long summer and he’s playing infield a lot,” Enright said. “He’s throwing across the infield every day. I didn’t want to have to do it, but with the struggles that we’ve had late in games, I’m just looking for someone who can consistently go out in the ninth and hammer it down. He did a great job.”
The Oilmen had Belmonte at third with no outs in the second inning and failed to score. They stranded seven men in scoring position.
“We have to do a better job of not fouling off pitches you can do a job with in those situations,” Enright said. “You can’t swing yourself into a two-strike count or foul off a pitch that you could hit a ground ball to second or short with. The best way to avoid a strikeout in that situation is to not get to two strikes.”
Skiff was the winning pitcher, improving to 3-0 on the season. Joliet (5-6) starter Steven Skolarz took the loss, allowing one run on three hits over five innings in his Admirals debut.
The Oilmen (9-5) are now only ½ game behind DuPage County for the top spot in the Midwest Collegiate League.
NWI hosts Michigan City at 7:10 p.m. on Thursday. It’s a celebration of the community with the annual Community Night Baseball Game at Oil City Stadium, hosted by the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce and the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. Tickets are available for the discounted price of $6 for the evening of fun.