07/23/2018 11:13 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 23, 2018 – Offensive contributions came from a surplus of sources for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Monday night.
The first six batters in the lineup all enjoyed multi-hit games as the Oilmen posted four three-run innings on their way to a 14-5 victory over the first-place DuPage County Hounds.
Jackson Dvorak (Missouri St. Louis / New Lenox, Ill.) was elevated to the No. 3 spot in the batting order and led the way with a six-RBI performance while racking up three hits and scoring three runs.
“He’s been making a lot of really good contact lately,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “His strike-zone discipline has been better than most guys on our team as of late. Our three hole isn’t necessarily our most dangerous guy, but it’s a guy who is going to have a good situational at-bat. He had a couple good situational at-bats on top of the home run. Today he fit the mold for a three hitter who is going to see a lot of off-speed pitches and not expand the zone on those pitches.”
Max Franklin (Heartland / Chicago Heights, Ill.) racked up 10 strikeouts while yielding three runs on four hits and two walks over six strong innings. He picked up the win to improve his record to 3-1.
“That was his best start of the year,” Enright said. “He’s been battling some issues physically, but tonight he felt really good. When he feels good, he can live off his fastball because he can do a lot of different things with it. He gets some movement late and changes speeds with it very well, so he doesn’t have to throw a ton of off-speed pitches because his fastball can serve as that. His command was better than it was in his last two outings.”
The Oilmen jumped on the board on a Zaid Walker (Michigan State / Flossmoor, Ill.) run-scoring single in the second, then expanded the cushion to four thanks a three-run third in which Dvorak drove in a pair and scored another. DuPage County (28-12) made it a 5-3 ballgame after Matt Collins spanked a three-run homer against Franklin in the fifth, but the Oilmen responded with a three-spot of the own in the bottom of the inning. Dvorak led off the fifth with his first home run of the summer, clearing the brick monster in left.
The Oilmen tacked on three more in the bottom of the sixth inning, opening up an 11-3 lead that allowed Enright to turn the ball over to position players on the mound for the game’s duration.
“The name of the game this week is to try to conserve as much pitching as possible so that if we do get in a tight game later in the week, we may be able to extend guys like Pedro (Rodriguez) and George (Sherman),” Enright said. “To not have to burn them at all in the first game of the week so that they don’t have to be down for a day or two is huge. If we can play a couple more like this one, we’ll be in good shape moving into the postseason.”
The Oilmen (22-17) continued the offensive onslaught as they scored three more runs on five hits in the eighth. NWI got three hits apiece from Walker and Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.), who also played well defensively in center and came in to pitch the top of the ninth. After striking out in the first inning, Figus reached base in four straight plate appearances and scored three times.
“When things start going poorly for him, you would never know it,” Enright said. “When things are going well, you would never know it either. He’s a very mature, even-keeled player who is really just working on things. He’s working to better himself as a well-rounded player. We’ve been focusing on things in his swing to help him hit for a little more power and to hit off-speed pitches more consistently. Guys like that who have a very positive outlook on what the summer is all about and are willing to make some changes tend to have the most positive results by the end of the summer.”
The Oilmen are 5 ½ back of DuPage County for the top spot in the MCL, but just one game behind Southland for second place and home-field advantage for a potential first-round playoff series. The Oilmen host the Vikings on Tuesday night at 7:10 at Oil City Stadium with a chance to move within percentage points of Southland for second in the standings. It’s Fan Appreciation Night at Oil City Stadium and tickets are available now on NWIOilmen.com.