06/24/2018 12:33 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 23, 2018 – After an Evan Bell RBI single in the top of the first, the blistering bats of the Northwest Indiana Oilmen (11-8) responded with four runs on six hits in the bottom half. That powerful first inning punch proved to be all the Oilmen needed as the club coasted to an 8-2 victory over the scuffling Crestwood Panthers (2-16).
Scoring early and often has been a key to success during a seven game win streak that has seen the Oilmen climb back into the Midwest Collegiate League playoff race. Even on a night without the luxury of Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.) or Nate Montgomery (Tusculum / Geneva, Ill.), Northwest Indiana was able to muster 12 hits.
“We’ve got a lot of guys up and down the roster who are very locked in at this point at the plate,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “We can basically pick our lineup out of a hat and know that we’re going to have a lineup full of guys who can do some damage.”
In the six run win, the Oilmen added another electric bat to an offense that is already firing on all cylinders. Zaid Walker (Michigan State / Homewood, Ill.) made his debut at Oil City Stadium. The 36th round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds out of Homewood-Flossmoor High School made loud contact all night, registering two hits as the second hitter in the order. Enright offered high praise to Walker after the game.
“He’s dynamic. He reminds me a lot of Tyler Sroczynski because he’s a guy who’s really strong, really well-built, really physical, and very fast. He can do everything. He can steal bases and hit for power. We’re very happy and very fortunate to have him in our lineup for the rest of the summer. He’ll be a weapon,” Enright said.
On Saturday night, Oilmen starter Brendan Kelly (Purdue Northwest / Grandville, Mich.) quickly dismissed any doubts about how he would perform after a long 15 day layoff, allowing only one unearned run over four innings. Sawyer Allen (Hillsdale College / Fair Oaks, Ind.), Andrew Hancock (University of Evansville / New Lenox, Ill.), and Pedro Rodriguez (Tusculum / Kissimmee, Fla.) combined to surrender one run over the final five innings, continuing to prove that the Oilmen bullpen has made great strides of late.
Another major storyline on Saturday involved the other half of the Oilmen battery. Jake Perreira (University of Indianapolis / Grant Park, Ill.) not only hit a two run home run, but also logged his first three innings behind the plate this summer. Perreira, who has been recovering from Tommy John surgery and an injured labrum in his hip, is expected to be eased back into catching after serving as strictly a designated hitter this season.
“We just want to make sure that he is not in any sort of danger as far as re-injuring himself. I would say that in the very near future you’ll see him in the normal catching rotation,” Enright said.
Now three games above .500, the Oilmen have clearly grown closer as a result of recent success. According to Enright, strong camaraderie in a dugout makes the daily grind of summer baseball more enjoyable.
“I think that’s the story every summer. You wait until late June to see guys figure each other out. That’s when the personalities start coming out because everyone is more comfortable with each other. It becomes a lot more about wanting to be here because you like spending time with the guys on the team and playing good baseball becomes easier,” Enright said.
The Oilmen will try to make it eight in a row on Sunday at Oil City Stadium as they square off against the Southland Vikings at 4:10 p.m. The game will be airing on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network with Brandon Vickrey and Sam Michel on the call.