05/27/2016 11:12 PM -
Bloomington, Ill. – May 27, 2016 – Friday’s season opener between the Northwest Indiana Oilmen and Bloomington Bobcats unfolded just as any baseball Opening Day should – as a classic pitcher’s duel.
NWI right-hander Max Siedlecki (New Mexico Highlands / Chicago, Ill.) was stellar in his Oilmen debut, but Bloomington hurler Mitch Weis (Illinois State) was a touch better, guiding the Bobcats to a 3-0 victory.
Siedlecki hurled five innings and yielded two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out four and walking none.
“I felt pretty good,” Siedlecki said. “Pretty much all we threw were fastballs. They weren’t touching my fastball. I’m trying to work more on location. In the third and fourth inning, I started to miss my spots a little more, but I was still able to get outs.”
Weis dominated for seven innings, yielding just one hit and one walk while striking out nine in his Bobcats debut. The win allowed Bloomington to make a success return as the team played its first game since 2002 after a 14-year hiatus.
“The kid dealt,” acting Oilmen manager Billy DuBois said. “It’s Opening Day; that kid’s pumped up. Our kids are new. Opening Day is always hard for everyone. That’s why you throw your No. 1 in the first game of the year. They don’t know each other, so they’re trying to overdo it.”
DuBois, the former manager of the Lexington Snipes, filled in for Oilmen manager Adam Enright, who was finishing out his spring season at Trinity Christian. Enright will return for Saturday’s game at DuPage County.
Ironically, DuBois was the opposing manager for the final Oilmen game of the 2015 season, a postseason loss to the Snipes.
“It was different, but I’ve been around forever, and it’s just another ballgame,” DuBois said. “I wanted to win. I told these guys, I’m an Oilman today and I want to win.”
Josh Fewell’s (Heartland / Kokomo, Ind.) ground ball single in the top of the first inning was the only Oilmen hit against Weis. In fact, NWI did not alter the hit column again until the top of the ninth, when Cory Krolikowski (Minnesota Duluth / Bartlett, Ill.) looped a single to left.
Two of the three Bloomington runs came in the fourth inning, when Garrett Anderson singled to left to drive in two. A double by Garrett Shea and an error by shortstop Jimmy Govern (Eastern Illinois / Libertyville, Ill.) set up the two-run single.
Bloomington tacked on its third run in the bottom of the seventh, when the Oilmen bullpen yielded an insurance tally. Hunter Clark (Eastern Illinois / Granger, Ind.), who had worked a scoreless sixth, committed a throwing error and issued a walk before leaving the game. Jay Gutierrez (Olney Central / Oak Lawn, Ill.) walked two of the three men he faced and walked in a run before being removed.
James Whiteman (Triton College / Lakeville, Ind.) entered the game and recorded back-to-back strikeouts to escape without further damage. Whiteman also hurled a scoreless eighth.
“Whiteman is electric,” DuBois said. “He’s really electric. I was impressed with the Oilmen. They’re good kids, but you have to give credit to (Weis).”
The Oilmen threatened with two on and one away in the ninth, with Fewell representing the tying run. However, the Bobcats (1-0) summoned Bubba Henry, who needed only one pitch to induce a double play and earn his first save of the summer. The starters were the pitchers of record, with Siedlecki suffering his first loss of the summer and Weis snagging his first win.
The Oilmen (0-1) return to the diamond for an afternoon matinee on Saturday at 1 p.m. against the defending Midwest Collegiate League champion DuPage County Hounds at the Lemont Athletic Complex. Tune into the game on NWIOilmen.com with pregame coverage beginning at 12:40 p.m.