06/22/2017 7:53 PM -
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen have now won seven games at home this season, and five of those games have been won by one run. NWI won its third game in a row and improved to 13-9 Thursday with a 5-4 win over the Southland Vikings.
The Vikings started the scoring with a run on a wild pitch in the third to make the score 1-0. Aside from that mistake, Joe Graziano was outstanding on the mound for NWI. He hadn’t given up an earned run in 2017, and that hot start continued. Graziano struck out three and gave up only the one run, but the Oilmen starter threw 86 pitches in five innings and was running out of gas.
“They got a lot of hits,” Coach Adam Enright said. “They put a lot of barrels on balls. Because even though he hadn’t given up any runs, he had allowed eight hits in five innings. You don’t want to be the guy who rides it until it blows up. We got five good innings out of him.”
The Oilmen gave Graziano some offense in the fifth. Tommy Farrell doubled with runners on second and third to give Northwest Indiana a 2-1 lead. Sam Geraci came in to relieve Graziano on the mound, and he pitched two innings of shutout baseball. Geraci struck out four and gave up just one hit.
The Oilmen offense kept chipping away at Vikings’ pitching. A run in the sixth and two more in the eighth put the score at 5-1, and the Oilmen looked to be an inning away from an easy win. Instead, Southland scored three runs before recording an out after Tom Decero’s three-run home run.
Now in a one-run game, the Oilmen’s Tyler Laux settled down on the mound and got three quick outs. Two fly outs and a strikeout put the game away, and the Vikings’ comeback fell a run short.
“We’re playing pretty well,” Enright said. “The pitching’s been good the last two games. As long as we pitch, we’ll score enough runs to win. Those two things put together, and then we’ve played good enough defense to make the pitching and the hitting hold up.”
Joe Graziano gets the win after five innings without an earned run. Southland’s Brandon Thomas took the loss. The Oilmen are now 13-9, and take to Oil City Stadium again Friday against the Joliet Admirals.
To see the box score from today's game, click on "Download Attachment".