By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – June 14, 2019 – As Brandon Petkoff (Texas A&M Corpus Christi / Frankfort, Ill.) rounded third in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday night at Oil City Stadium, Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell took a calculated risk.
He waved Petkoff home on an extra-base knock by Clay Thompson (Oakland / Schererville, Ind.) in an effort to score the winning run from first base. The gamble paid off as the relay throw took a bad bounce over the head of the Crestwood catcher, allowing Petkoff to score the winning run in a 7-6, walk-off victory over the visiting Panthers.
“I liked our chances of getting another base hit after Clay, worst case scenario,” Tyrrell said. “I wanted to force them to make a play. Brandon runs well, and if he gets thrown out at the plate, we would have had Clay getting to third base with less than two outs. I like our chances in that scenario. We’re erring on the side of being aggressive, and that was our philosophy coming into the season. It was a calculated risk knowing they would have had to make two difficult throws perfectly to get him and even if they did, we would have a guy at third with less than two outs.”
The Thompson walk-off hit allowed the Oilmen to secure their second straight victory despite a four-run eighth inning for Crestwood that tied the game six. A peculiar inning appeared to be over on a 4-6-3 double play, but the Oilmen had to come back out onto the field after Crestwood manager Isaac Valdez successfully argued that the Oilmen first baseman had pulled his foot off the bag. After the inning resumed with two outs and a runner at first, five straight reached and four scored, highlighted by a two-run double by Nick Anderson.
“The resiliency wasn’t where it should have been in that inning,” Tyrrell said. “We had to go back on the field after that call – and they got the call right – and I didn’t like our body language or concentration level. It was big for momentum. We had a couple opportunities to put them away and we didn’t. The Panthers are tough and competitive. They want to win just as badly as we do.”
Thompson finished the game with four hits, two runs scored, two RBIs and four stolen bases. The other offensive standout for the Oilmen was Ben Berenda (IU Southeast / Rensselaer, Ind.), who had four hits, clubbed three doubles and drove in three. Berenda doubled in the first run of the game in the bottom of the first by cracking one to the opposite-field gap, then crushed a two-run double in the fourth that snapped a 2-2 tie. Berenda, a switch-hitter, went 4-for-5 in the game including 4-for-4 from the left side.
“Ben is really starting to see the ball well, especially from the left side,” Tyrrell said. “He’s actually seeing it better from the left side than he is from the right side, and he went up there in the eighth and batted left-handed against a lefty. When you’re seeing the ball well, it doesn’t matter if it’s 120 miles per hour or 65 miles per hour, the ball looks big. He’s that confident from the left side right now. Hopefully he stays healthy because I’m going to need that bat in the lineup every day.”
NWI starting pitcher Mike Madura (South Suburban / Munster, Ind.) received no decision despite 6 2/3 innings in which he limited Crestwood to two runs while scattering eight hits. He racked up six strikeouts while issuing no walks in his 102-pitch performance.
“His stuff wasn’t firm in the first three innings and he was struggling with command, but after the third inning he figured it out,” Tyrrell said. “After that point, his arm was loose and he started pounding the bottom of the zone. His fastball added a couple of extra miles per hour after the third inning, which you don’t see very often. We needed him to go deep, and he gave us length today.”
Jonny Vesevick (College of DuPage / Wheaton, Ill.) picked up the win to improve to 1-2 despite allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. He bounced back from the shaky eighth to survive a top of the ninth that saw the Panthers (1-11) leave the bases loaded. Both teams stranded the bags full in the third inning and the Panthers left a pair in the fourth. Michael Kokoszka (0-2) took the defeat after pitching the ninth for Crestwood.
The Oilmen (5-5) will be back in action on Saturday night for a 6:10 matchup with the Southland Vikings. It’s Mascot Night at the ballpark and there will be an Oilman Stan bobblehead giveaway. For those who can’t make it to Oil City Stadium, Brandon Vickrey and Will Trubshaw will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live.
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