06/05/2016 3:43 PM -
Joliet, Ill. – June 5, 2016 – If Sunday afternoon is any indication, the slow start is officially in the rearview mirror for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
The Oilmen prevailed 13-3, taking advantage of Joliet’s sloppiness to invoke the 10-run rule after eight innings.
The Admirals (4-5) committed five errors, issued 11 walks and hit two batters, but the Oilmen (2-6) did their part as well, racking of 16 hits, six of which went for extra bases.
“Every big inning has an extra-base hit in it,” said Oilmen manager Adam Enright, whose team had four extra base hits in six games before this weekend. “I say that to our guys at Trinity (Christian College) during the spring. You’re not always going to be able to string together five or six singles to score a bunch of runs.”
The Oilmen found numerous ways to score on Sunday, including a two-run homer by Tyler Srocyznski (Trinity Christian College / Dyer, Ind.) in the eighth. Sroczynski, who matched the franchise record with three home runs last summer, is one of three Oilmen with a long ball this year. The Oilmen center fielder collected two hits and reached base four times in the game.
The Oilmen kept up the hot offense after scoring 12 runs in a game against the Southland Vikings that was suspended by weather on Saturday.
“I’m not saying I expect this team to score 25 runs every two games, but I expect us to be competitive offensively now that we’re almost at full strength,” Enright said. “It’s nice that we can establish roles, both on the mound and offensively.”
One player whose role is still uncertain is Sunday’s starter Richard Yelnick (Parkland / Trinity Christian / New Lenox, Ill.). There was nothing uncertain about his control, as he pounded the zone to the tune of no walks over five innings while scattering eight hits and yielding two runs, one earned.
Yelinck (1-0) was the winning pitcher in his season debut. He is currently the No. 6 starter, but the Oilmen plan to utilize a six-man rotation this summer. Yelnick is expected to receive another start.
“(Sunday) was a gauge of his ability to throw multiple pitches for strikes and command a fastball on both sides of the plate,” Enright said. “He was getting off-balance swings and getting ground balls. He gave up seeing-eye singles and bloopers, but missed barrels and got soft contact.”
Jamary McKinney (Chicago State / Chicago, Ill.) issued two walks, but escaped his inning unscathed with help from two strikeouts and a nifty defensive play by shortstop Brad Bohlen. Jay Gutierrez (Olney Central / Oak Lawn, Ill.) flipped 1 2/3 shutout innings while striking out two and surrendering just one unearned tally.
Joliet starter Matt Butler (0-1) took the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.
The Oilmen scored twice in the first and the Admirals scratched out one in the third, before a five-run Oilmen fifth inning changed the complexion of the game. The Oilmen sent 11 batters to the plate, had four hits and benefited from four walks and a hit batter in the inning. They tacked on two in the seventh and four in the eighth to account for the final score.
Stefano Belmonte (Florida Gulf Coast / Munster, Ind.) went 4-for-4 with a walk, sacrifice fly and three RBIs. Combine Sunday’s game with Belmonte’s performance through five innings on Saturday, and he finished the weekend at 7-for-7 plus two walks and a sac fly in 10 plate appearances.
The Oilmen begin a long stretch of home games on Tuesday night.
“It’s a repetitive game,” Enright said. “We get to do the same thing day after day. Having the momentum going into that stretch and having roles defined is good.”
Tuesday’s home opener against the Michigan City Lakers begins at 7:20 p.m. The game will be broadcast on AM 1230 WJOB and NWIOilmen.com beginning at 7. It’s a Two for Tuesday special, so lawn seats are available for the discounted price of $2. Tickets can be purchased by visiting NWIOilmen.com.