07/23/2017 10:43 AM -
WHITING, Ind. – July 22, 2017 – In the five-year history of the Northwest Indiana Oilmen, the team had never won more than 28 games in a single regular season. That bar was set in the team’s inaugural season of 2012, when the Oilmen went on to win its first Midwest Collegiate League championship. Saturday, the Oilmen broke the record when they won their sixth game in a row and 29th of the season at Oil City Stadium over the Crestwood Panthers.
After a slow start, the Oilmen offense came to life in a big way in the third inning with five runs. Chase Dawson scored John Cory on a groundout to put the Oilmen on the scoreboard first, and Danny Torres singled and brought home Will Kulcher. Another run came across, and later Alex Nisle put the cherry on top of the big inning with a two-out, two-run double which scored Amir Wright and Blake Cleveland. Northwest Indiana didn’t have a hit going into the inning, but put together five in the third and took a 5-0 lead over Crestwood.
Bo Hofstra had a comfortable lead after three innings, which was far more than the Oilmen starter needed on the mound. In what was easily his best start of the season, Hofstra didn’t allow a single hit in five innings against the Panthers. He didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth, and the only Crestwood hitters to reach base came on Hofstra’s three walks. Oilmen coach Adam Enright took him out of the game with a 6-0 lead and the no-hitter still intact, knowing Hofstra could very well be needed in the next week.
Caleb Matthews came in to relieve Hofstra in the sixth and gave up the first two hits of the day to Crestwood, but the Panthers wouldn’t do much more damage against the Oilmen pitchers. Matthews didn’t give up any runs in the sixth and seventh innings, and Rory Gard came in for the last two innings to close the door. He allowed a run in the eighth to break the shutout, but that would be the only blemish in a great day on the mound for the Oilmen pitching staff.
“I think once you start winning, good things become contagious,” Coach Enright said after the game. “They [the Oilmen] show up and they expect to win. Situations where we need a leadoff baserunner, they expect to get on base and when we get runners in scoring position they expect to at least have a good at-bat and have a chance for RBIs. Where we’re at now, it’s not pressure anymore. Before, it was ‘Who’s going to step up and get the hit? Who’s going to finish the game on the mound? Are we going to be able to make a play at the end of the game to finish it?’ It’s much more relaxed because we’re expecting good things to happen because we’re used to good things happening.”
The Oilmen won their sixth consecutive game by a score of 6-1 over the Panthers to become the first team in franchise history to win 29 games. Northwest Indiana will go for its seventh straight win tomorrow, which would tie another team record. Adam Enright also made history with the win; his 82nd as manager of the team ties Justin Huisman for most in Oilmen history.
Bo Hofstra got the win for NWI, while Crestwood starter Josh Hojnicki took the loss.
The Oilmen still have work to do. The DuPage County Hounds also won Saturday to stay a game above the Oilmen for first place in the MCL standings. If the Oilmen win Sunday or the Hounds lose one of their two games of a doubleheader against the Bobcats, Tuesday’s game between NWI and DuPage County would be for the league lead. After the game, Adam Enright talked to his team about the importance of staying focused.
“[I talked about] playing intense and being ready to win tomorrow just to make sure that Tuesday’s game means what it should mean,” Enright said. “Don’t just look ahead to Tuesday’s game, make sure to take care of tomorrow so we don’t get to Tuesday in a situation where we can’t catch the Hounds with a win and look back and say we blew it on Sunday against Crestwood.”
The Oilmen go for seven in a row, Adam Enright’s 83rd career win and win No. 30 on the season Sunday at 4 p.m. against the Crestwood Panthers. Tickets are available online now at NWIOilmen.com.