By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – June 6, 2019 – Even in the eighth season of Northwest Indiana Oilmen baseball, there always seems to be a new “first” taking place.
Foggy nights in the “Little City by the Lake” have occurred from time to time over the years, but fog so thick that it halted play was new territory in Thursday’s home opener at Oil City Stadium. The limited visibility was a factor for much of the game and eventually caused the contest to be deemed official when play was stopped in the top of the sixth, giving the visiting Hounds a 10-3 victory.
“Brandon Petkoff made a play that I don’t even think he knew he caught,” Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell said. “Nobody saw the ball. I thought it was in center field and it was in right. Somebody said, ‘Hey it’s on you,’ and he just put his glove up and caught the ball and fell down.’ I’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t know how anybody caught the ball in the outfield. It was weird, but sometimes that’s life. We could have had a better effort in that last inning defensively and had a chance to bat again before it became unplayable.”
The Hounds jumped in front with four runs in the top of the first against Oilmen starting pitcher Jack Guzek (Iowa / Manhattan, Ill.), who was eventually hit with the defeat to fall to 1-1 after allowing seven runs (five earned) on six hits while striking out six and walking three. Guzek pitched better than his line would indicate, as he found his groove after allowing the first five batters of the game to reach. The right-hander eventually sent down 11 straight spanning the first through fifth innings.
“Jack threw all his pitches for strikes early on, but with two strikes he was getting too much of the plate,” Tyrrell said. “The Hounds have a really good hitting team and they can really hit a fastball. He was starting a lot of guys off with fastballs. He made the adjustment immediately and you started to see it, but it took us six or seven hitters to figure that out. I’ve got to do a better job of preparing him for good fastball hitting teams, especially early in the summer.”
The Oilmen sliced the 4-0 deficit in half thanks to a Jackson Dvorak (Missouri St. Louis / New Lenox, Ill.) two-run double in the second. The score stayed 4-2 until the fifth, when each team pushed across a run. The Northwest Indiana tally came courtesy of Brandon Petkoff (Texas A&M Corpus Christi / Frankfort, Ill.), who doubled and scored on a ground ball by Malik Peters (Northern Illinois / Calumet City, Ill.).
The Oilmen made an error in the sixth that extended the inning and caused five unearned runs to score. The third out of the inning was never recorded, as Oilmen outfielders (and everyone else in the stadium) were struggling to see balls hit to the outfield due to the thickening fog. The game was delayed for 25 minutes to see if the fog would dissipate, but it was eventually called an official game when it became clear it could not be resumed.
DuPage County has rapped off five straight wins to start the season despite playing every game on the road. Grant Segar (2-0) pitched a five-inning complete game and allowed three runs on four hits and four walks to earn the win.
“I’m very impressed with the Hounds offensively,” Tyrrell said. “They really swung the bats well and they’re going to be a difficult opponent all year. I look forward to playing them again next week.”
The Oilmen (3-2) will be back in action on Friday night as Crestwood comes to town for a 7:10 first pitch at Oil City Stadium. It’s Miller Lite Pint Night with $2 Miller Lite Pints available at the stadium concession stand. The game can be seen on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey and Jon Zaghloul on the call.
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