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Keltner’s success doesn’t change, but Oilmen offense comes up empty

07/02/2016 9:34 PM -

Whiting, Ind. – July 2, 2016 – Off-balance Southland hitters flailing ahead of two-strike changeups was a common sight on Monday night at Oil City Stadium.

Clay Keltner had his best stuff, but the Oilmen offense couldn’t scratch the scoreboard despite nine hits in a 2-0 loss to the Southland Vikings.

The Oilmen have dropped three straight and are below .500 at 14-15 this season.

Keltner (Cornerstone / Highland, Ind.) went eight innings and gave up just one run on four hits while racking up nine strikeouts and issuing one walk. He suffered a tough-luck loss to drop to 3-2 on the season.

“His changeup was dominant; it was unbelievable,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “I think he wanted to be efficient with his pitches so he could keep his pitch count down as much as possible so he could get as many at-bats as possible.”

For the first time this season, the Oilmen did not use a designated hitter and Keltner batted for himself. He stroked a single in the third, joining Jimmy McNamara (2014) and Hunter Clark (2015) as the three true pitchers in Oilmen history with base hits.

Reliever Jordan Petty (Purdue Northwest / Highland, Ind.) almost joined that group when he batted with two outs and runners at first and third in the bottom of the ninth, but he smoked a line drive to third that was caught for the final out of the game.

“They did better than some of our position players have lately,” Enright said. “That last one could have made it interesting if that ball goes down the line. Them hitting had nothing to do with us losing the game.”

Southland starter Colin Brauer (2-0) scattered nine hits in a complete-game shutout while issuing two walks and striking out six. The Oilmen have been held scoreless three times this season, twice in full nine-inning games after never being shutout in a full-length game before this year.

“Usually 14 or 15 hard-hit balls turns into a couple of runs, but (on Saturday) it didn’t,” Enright said. “The timeliness of us hitting line drives at people wasn’t good. We hit a lot of balls hard; that’s all you can ask for.”

Enright praised the defensive play of Vikings centerfielder Amir Wright, who made several important snags to keep the Oilmen off the board. Wright also contributed to the offense as the lone Viking with two hits. Southland ups its record to 14-12 with the win.

The Oilmen received two hits apiece from Zack Forney (Eastern Illinois / Cary, Ill.) and Chris Baker (UIC / South Holland, Ill.), but as a team they stranded 10 runners on base.

The Oilmen rounded out a stretch of 10 games in 10 days at 5-5.

“You look at the standings and maybe we’re not exactly where we want to be, but you look at the number of games we’ve played and we’re trying to keep our July off-days intact,” Enright said. “I have a strong feeling that when we hit that homestand late in the year, we’re going to be fresh and ready to go.”

Now, the Oilmen take a three-day break from MCL play with off days Sunday and Tuesday sandwiched around a game against the U.S. Military All-Stars on Monday at 3 p.m.

The U.S. Military All-Stars are a team comprised of all active duty servicemen. They return to Oil City Stadium to take on the Oilmen for the first time since 2013. There will also be a pregame concert featuring High Noon Band beginning at noon. A ticket for both the concert at the game is $10 with proceeds benefiting the Northwest Indiana Veterans Action Council.