06/09/2017 10:02 PM -
WHITING, Ind. – June 9, 2017 – After falling behind early against the Joliet Admirals Friday night, it looked like the Northwest Indiana Oilmen would fall to 0-2 at home on the 2017 season. Instead, NWI came back to force extra innings and treated the fans at Oil City Stadium to a walk-off win.
Hunter Clark made his second start of the season for the Oilmen After a quality start against Bloomington last week, he didn’t have the same stuff against Joliet. Clark made a name for himself last season as one of the most accurate pitchers in the league, but walked the bases loaded in the first inning on Friday. Dominic Smith drove in two with a single to give Joliet the lead, but the Admirals didn’t stop there. In the second, Clark gave up four more hits and the Admirals scored four more runs to give the Oilmen a six-run deficit before Northwest Indiana had recorded a hit.
“You’ve just got to play the game one pitch at a time,” said Coach Pat Antone, who filled in for Adam Enright for the day. “We were down six in the first two innings, so we had a lot of time to pick away at the lead. I just told them, ‘relax, slow down, just play one pitch at a time.’ That was the problem for Clark starting out. He was just rushing a little bit. I told him, ‘take a deep breath, step back and relax and let it go naturally.’”
It took a while for the Oilmen to start chipping away at that lead. Admiral starter Josh Rahn got through the first four innings without allowing a run to cross, but in the fifth Dashon Moore drove in Noah Davis and Blake Cleveland for NWI’s first runs of the game. After Moore’s singled, he stole second and Sroczynski scored on the throw down. Just like that, the lead was cut in half.
A short rain delay stopped the game in the middle of the sixth with the score at 6-3, but that wouldn’t slow down Northwest Indiana’s bats. Reliever Tyler Laux gave up a run in the top of the seventh, but Noah Davis capped a four-run bottom half of the inning with a three-run home run to tie the game at 7.
“Offensively, [the rain delay] didn’t really slow us down or affect us too much,” said Antone. “Maybe it slowed them a little bit down and benefitted us in the long run. Who knows, but we were pretty relaxed the whole time.” The Oilmen had tied the game going into the eighth, and the teams exchanged runs in that inning. Jake Ryder drove in Ben Zrodani in the top of the inning, and Tyler Sroczynski hit a solo home run to keep pace. The game went into extra innings tied at 8.
The Admirals went down in order in the 10th. After Noah Davis walked and Jack Ciombor singled in the bottom half to put runners on the corners with one out, Joliet intentionally walked Sroczynski to load the bases. Dashon Moore struck out in the next at-bat. With two outs and the bases loaded, Amir Wright – who was 0-4 on the day – hit a drive over the heads of the shallow Admiral outfield to win the Oilmen the game, 9-8.
“This could definitely be used as a catapult to get things rolling with the team,” Antone said. “We’ll have to see. We’ve just got a good group of guys overall, and that’s what’s going to keep it going.”
The Oilmen improve to 6-6 on the season and are now 3-0 against the Admirals. Joliet’s nightmare start to the year continued; the Admirals are now 1-9. Tyler Laux was the winning pitcher for NWI, while Mikey Rivera took the loss.
The Oilmen are back at Oil City Stadium tomorrow to face the Bloomington Bobcats. Bloomington is 3-5 this season.
To see the box score from today's game, click on "Download Attachment".