07/08/2016 8:10 PM -
Lemont, Ill. – July 8, 2016 – The Oilmen already owned a three-run lead, but they know all too well the important of adding insurance against DuPage County.
When a bases loaded nobody out situation turned into bases loaded with two down in the top of the eighth inning on Friday, a feeling of uneasiness overcame the Oilmen a week after surrendering a late lead to the first-place Hounds.
That feeling was erased as Jordan Flint (Eastern Illinois / Bartlett, Ill.) ripped a double to center, clearing the bases and removing the doubt from an eventual 7-1 Oilmen win.
The theme of two-out hitting started in the third, when Blake Cleveland (Central Michigan, Nappanee, Ind.) grounded a sharp single to third to tie the game at one. Then, Tyler Sroczynski (Trinity Christian / Dyer, Ind.) roped a two-run double down the left-field line to put the Oilmen in the lead.
“That puts pressure on the other team,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “Those type of hits will stick with opponents later on in the year and possibly in the postseason. They’ll feel good about getting those first two outs, but in the back of their mind they’ll still feel some pressure. Anytime you can do that, it’s demoralizing to the opponent and rejuvenates your team.”
A recent power surge by the Oilmen continued in the sixth inning as they launched their fifth home run in the last three days, when Tommy Szczasny cracked his second of the year. Szczasny (Northern Illinois / Tinley Park, Ill.) increased his team-leading RBI total to 23.
“You never know with graduated high school seniors if they’re going to be guys you can count on,” Enright said. “For the high school guys we’ve had this year, with him being the leader of that pack, it’s been not only surprising but enjoyable to watch them step into these roles.”
Christian Howell (Minnesota State Mankato / Aurora, Ill.) delivered a quality outing against the Hounds for the second straight week, this time earning the win with seven innings of one-run ball while scattering eight hits and striking out four.
A week after allowing Howell to remain in the game in the eighth in an eventual 3-2, 11-inning loss, Enright made the opposite move and trusted the bullpen to protect what was at the time a three-run cushion.
“The last game factored in,” Enright said. “In the summertime, I don’t want to extend pitchers too much where they can get themselves into trouble and wipe away six or seven good innings. The only reason he went out last time was he struck out the side in the seventh and begged me to go back out there.”
Zack Forney (Eastern Illinois / Cary, Ill.) was the only Oilmen player with a two-hit game. Brandon Post and Ryan Krob each had two hits for the Hounds.
DuPage starter Thomas Goodyear allowed four runs on five hits in five innings to take the defeat and fall to 4-2.
The Oilmen (18-15) have won four straight for the third time this season. The victory over the first-place Hounds (18-13) allows the Oilmen to overtake the Admirals for second place and creep within one game of first.
“Having the chance to go unbeaten on the road for a week is a huge boost mentality-wise and also in the standings,” Enright said. “We’ll go home and possibly be somewhere at the top going into a homestand.”
The Oilmen visit the Southland Vikings at Hap Bruno Field at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The game can be heard on AM 1230 WJOB.