06/30/2018 8:52 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 29, 2018 – With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Oilmen had the man they wanted at the plate. Down by one to the Crestwood Panthers, with runners on first and second, Nate Montgomery (Tusculum / Geneva, Ill.) deposited his league-leading fifth home run over the left-center field fence. His college teammate Pedro Rodriguez (Tusculum / Kissimmee, Fla.) shut the door in the ninth to help snap a two-game losing streak for the Oilmen as they prevailed 8-6.
Montgomery’s success was in all phases of the game on Friday. Aside from his heroic at-bat in the eighth, he performed valiantly in managing a thin pitching staff, further asserting his role as a leader on this team.
“Nate’s a workhorse behind the plate. He’s a guy who always does what we ask him to,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “He never complains and he’s a really good teammate. He’s a guy that, when he does well, you’re very happy for him and he’s a guy you’re rooting for to do well just because of the type of selfless person he is.”
It was a “gut it out” victory if there ever was one for Northwest Indiana. Short-staffed, the Oilmen defensive setup read something like that of a pick-up game. Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.) and Hunter Thorn (Purdue Northwest / Portage, Ind.) represented the tandem up the middle. Pat Hayes (Undecided / Chicago, Ill.) was luckily able to locate the proper glove for his first career crack at first base. Finally, Jake Perreira (University of Indianapolis / Grant Park, Ill.) had little time to get acquainted with left field with the ball finding him early on in Friday’s contest.
“They were really excited to move around a bit. Things get a little boring when you play the same teams a lot and keep going through the same exact routine. Honestly, days like this are a necessary evil in the summer because it gets guys to have a little fun,” Enright said.
Perhaps a little extra fun was important on a hot summer evening, especially when the game began to drag in the middle innings. While Crestwood’s Ryan Green had his struggles with control, walking two and hitting five batters over his six innings pitched, he exited with a 4-3 lead as Oilmen pitching was just as shaky.
In total, Brendan Kelly (Purdue Northwest / Grandville, Mich.), Connor Spear (UW Whitewater / Highland, Ind.), and Nick Wolf (McHenry County College / Valparaiso, Ind.) issued 13 free passes over eight and one-third innings pitched, walking ten and hitting three. Five of the six Crestwood runs were hitters who were put on as a result of handouts by Northwest Indiana pitching.
Thankfully, control was in the right arm of Pedro Rodriguez who nailed it down in the eighth and ninth, picking up the victory over one and two-thirds innings of run-free baseball.
The Oilmen will look to keep the momentum going on Saturday night against the Southland Vikings at Oil City Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. The game will be airing on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network with Brandon Vickrey and Sam Michel on the call.