07/12/2015 4:48 PM -
Lexington, Ill. – July 12, 2015 – For the first time all summer, the Oilmen find themselves looking up at two teams in the Midwest Collegiate League standings.
The team’s longest losing streak since 2012 continued on Sunday afternoon with an 8-6 defeat to the Lexington Snipes, who take over sole possession of second place.
After striking first for the second straight day, the Oilmen found themselves again plagued by a big inning, this time the second. Spot starter Richard Yelnick, who was inserted when Keith Mahler was a late scratch, yielded six runs (two earned) on four walks and five hits.
For the third time in the last four games, walks came back to bite Northwest Indiana’s starting pitcher.
“He wasn’t getting calls on the outside corner and when you’re a left-hander that doesn’t throw real hard and you don’t get those calls, you’re going to get hit,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “That hasn’t happened all year to him. On a couple of those fastballs away, it looked like Zack (Jones’) glove wasn’t moving at all, but we weren’t getting strike calls. A lot of those at-bats were changed by that.”
Yelnick was lifted with two outs in the second, and Christian Howell came in to throw the remainder of the game. Howell turned in a quality outing, limiting the Snipes to two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. After the six-run second, the Snipes did not score again until the seventh, with Howell keeping his team in the game.
The Oilmen bats came to life in the top of the seventh, when Sam Geraci made reliever Tim Smyk pay for a walk and a hit by pitch by following with a three-run, tape-measure homer. The Snipes scored two pivotal runs in the seventh on a two-run double by Tyler Horchem, a fly ball that Joe Jumonville could not track down.
The two insurance tallies proved to be the difference, as Tyler Sroczynski crushed a two-out, two-run homer to left in the top of the ninth. Zack Jones followed with a ground ball to shortstop for the game’s final out.
“When we’re not hitting, we’re not competing,” Enright said. “We’re built to hit. We hit a couple balls well, but early on we had a lot of 2-0, 2-1, 3-1 counts where we were late on fastballs and didn’t do anything with them. You’re not going to get into the bullpen when you’re popping it up on 2-0 and 3-1.”
The Snipes (16-11) take over sole possession of second place in the MCL. Yelnick was hit with the defeat in his first start of the year to drop to 1-3. Snipes southpaw Ross Learnard (3-1) picked up the win by holding the Oilmen to one run on five hits over six innings. Jeff Lavin came in to nail down a one-out save, his second.
Sroczynski snapped out of a 2-for-14 slump with three hits. Geraci and Stefano Belmonte added two hits each.
The Oilmen (15-12) will look to return to form on Monday at Oil City Stadium as they welcome the Lexington Snipes for a makeup game of an earlier rainout. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. with tickets available on NWIOilmen.com.
The Oilmen will try to find a way to end their downtrodden stretch.
“If I knew the answer to that, we wouldn’t be in it,” Enright said. “If I knew what the answer was, we wouldn’t be losing every game.”