06/01/2018 8:48 PM -
Chicago Heights, Ill. – June 1, 2018 – For the second time in the first three games of the season, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen faced the task of opposing a pitcher who was selected in the Major League Baseball Draft out of a high school on Friday night.
After beating Crestwood’s Kyle Ostrowski on Monday, the Oilmen couldn’t repeat that success against Southland right-hander John Hendry on Friday. The 2016 Colorado Rockies draft pick permitted just three hits over six scoreless innings, pitching the defending league champion Vikings to a 7-1 victory at Hap Bruno Field.
Hendry (1-0) pitched to contact as he did not allow a walk and struck out only one. Mike Rios and Kyle Hallberg continued the success of the Southland (1-1) pitching staff, combining for three strong innings of relief. Vikings pitching issued no walks and totaled just three strikeouts against the Oilmen (0-2).
“We need to string a few hits together,” Oilmen assistant coach Matt Vitulli, who filled in for manager Adam Enright on Friday, said. “We’re missing that one big hit to clear the bases. We did a good job getting the bat on the ball, but we just need to find ways to score runs.”
Oilmen starting pitcher Max Franklin (Heartland / Chicago Heights, Ill.) allowed two-out baserunners but no damage in each of the first two innings. He was touched for two runs in the third, but the right-hander limited the damage well, recording consecutive strikeouts to cause Southland to strand the bases loaded.
Franklin issued consecutive walks to start the bottom of the fourth, and both came back to haunt the Oilmen as those runners crossed the dish as part of a three-run frame that expanded the Southland edge to 5-0.
“Max did well, even though it looked like he was struggling with mound a little bit,” Vitulli said. “It was his first start of the summer, and he struggled a bit once his pitch count elevated. Otherwise, I thought he did a great job.”
George Sherman (Dominican College / Skokie, Ill.) made his Oilmen debut, allowing single tallies in the fifth and sixth before heaving scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth. Sherman allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits in four innings while striking out three and walking one.
“George attacked the strike zone,” Vitulli said. “We wanted him to throw strikes. He did his job by getting outs for us.”
Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.) had the strongest day at the plate of any Oilman, becoming the first NWI player with a three-hit game this season.
“Nick strung together some good at-bats,” Vitulli said. “He’s seeing the ball very well. He’s attacking fastballs and he’s not missing his pitch. I think that’s what is behind his success.”
Tommy Farrell (UIC / Chicago, Ill.) added two hits for the Oilmen. NWI’s lone run came in the top of the eighth, when Nate Montgomery (Tusculum / Geneva, Ill.) reached on a throwing error and eventually scored on a half-swing tapper to the left side by Brendan Butler (Upper Iowa / Oak Lawn, Ill.) that served as a defacto safety squeeze.
The Oilmen face a quick turnaround as they attempt to get back in the win column on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Wayne L. King Junior Field against the Joliet Generals.
To view the box score, click here.