06/02/2016 9:32 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 2, 2016 – The sample size is small, but Bloomington’s O’Neil Park has quickly become a house of horrors for Northwest Indiana Oilmen hitters.
Bloomington Bobcat pitching picked up right where it left off last week, giving Northwest Indiana Oilmen batters reason for nightmares on Thursday. The Bobcats swept a doubleheader 3-2 and 2-0.
The Oilmen offense was especially quiet in the second game, when the Oilmen fell 2-0. They narrowly avoided being no-hit for the first time in franchise history, as Jimmy Govern grounded a single up the middle to lead off the seventh in a seven-inning game for the only Oilmen hit.
“We just need to be more aggressive,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “We need bigger, more aggressive swings early in the count. You get three strikes for a reason. We need to look for something specific and put our best swing on it.”
Jackson Bronke (Heartland) and Zach Frey (Illinois Springfield) hurled three innings apiece without giving up a base hit. Both are incoming freshmen that just completed their senior seasons of high school. Frey notched the win in the relief, his first decision in a Bobcat uniform. Closer Bubba Henry nailed down the save, his second of the year, but yielded the first Oilmen hit in the process.
The Oilmen (1-5) received a strong outing from Game 2 starter Reggie Johnson, who worked five innings and allowed one run on four hits while striking out five and walking two. Johnson (0-2) took the loss while pitching on just three days of rest.
“With Reggie, the fastball is good, but when the other pitches aren’t working and the fastball isn’t so overpowering, it gets hit around a little bit,” Enright said. “They were sitting fastball in the inning where he was having trouble locating his off-speed pitches.”
That Bobcats (4-1) did their scoring in the second and sixth innings. Nick Mosele stroked a run-scoring single to give the Bobcats the lead, before Cody Rogers delivered an RBI single for a sixth-inning insurance tally.
Oilmen reliever Hunter Clark surrendered an unearned run in the sixth, as the run following a throwing error by the catcher on a dropped third strike.
In Game 1 of the doubleheader, Bloomington touched starting pitcher Clay Keltner for two runs in the opening inning on four hits. A double by Pat Mollo and single by Jonathan Broadbear plated the runs.
The Oilmen responded with two in the third as Jimmy Govern rolled a ground ball to short to drive in a run and Cory Krolikowki hit a pop up that was dropped by the shortstop, plating Jordan Flint.
Although the Oilmen scored twice in the third, they exited the inning thinking they could have done more damage. Tyler Sroczynski misread a sign and laid down a sacrifice bunt when Enright had signaled for him to bunt for a hit in the inning. The frame ended when Krolikowski took off too soon from first and was caught stealing at second.
The Bobcats scored the run that proved to be the difference in the bottom of the fifth, when Addison Fugitt scampered home on a wild pitch to put Bloomington in the lead. Fugitt went 3-for-3, walked and scored twice.
Brad Bohlen (Northern Kentucky / Chicago Heights, Ill.) accounted for two of the team’s five hits in his Oilmen debut.
Matt Banatis (1-0) was the winning pitcher, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits in four innings. Tim Smyk worked back-to-back scoreless innings in relief, before Kody Silverthorn came on to nail down his first save.
“They have a couple guys with decent velocity and command of multiple pitches,” Enright said. “It’s a matter of pitching off those off-speed pitches that makes the fastball that much more effective. Their bullpen guys in the first game were outstanding.”
Keltner (0-1) was hit with the defeat, allowing three runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings. James Whiteman worked 1 1/3 scoreless frames of relief.
The Oilmen will return to Bloomington on Friday night as they again seek their first ever win against the Bobcats. The first pitch is slated for 7:30 p.m. The game can be heard on AM 1230 WJOB with pregame coverage starting at 7:10.