By: Brandon Vickrey
Midlothian, Ill. – July 11, 2019 – It was less than a week ago that the Northwest Indiana Oilmen found themselves with a record of 10-11 and in the fifth place in the Midwest Collegiate League standings.
But after Thursday night’s 13-1 trouncing of the Crestwood Panthers at Howie Minas Field, that sub-.500 mark seems like ages ago to the red-hot Oilmen. The team has strung together five consecutive wins, making a meteoric rise in the MCL standings in the process.
For all intents and purposes, it was over early on Thursday as the Oilmen exploded for 10 runs on five hits and five walks in the top of the second inning, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 10-1 lead. The Oilmen (15-11) sent 14 to the plate in the key inning, the second time within the last week they’ve scored nine or more in a frame.
“A lot of those opportunity were created via the base on balls, and our pitchers have done a nice job not allowing many free passes,” Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell said. “It seems like our big innings in recent games come after a bunt. Hunter Ryan had a sacrifice that ended up being a base hit that sparked our offense tonight. We’ve been working on bunting quite a bit lately. Four games in a row, a bunt single has led to a big inning.”
That sizeable cushion was more than enough for starting pitcher Johnny Vesevick (College of DuPage / Wheaton, Ill.), who dazzled to the tune of one run on three hits over seven innings. He walked three (two of them with two outs in the seventh) while permitting only three hits, all in the first inning. Only one batter reached base against Vesevick in a five-inning span from the second through the sixth. The lefty earned the win to improve to 2-2.
“Three weeks ago we talked about Johnny using a new arm angle, and he’s finally getting comfortable with it,” Tyrrell said. “That was the firmest he’s looked. They knew fastballs were coming and they still couldn’t hit them. That was the best he’s looked this season by far. He’s got a very high ceiling and we’re excited about the way he’s going.”
Anthony Hernandez (College of DuPage / Chicago) went two scoreless innings in relief. He permitted a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth, the first hit for the Panthers (6-21) since the opening inning.
After the 10-run explosion in the second, the Oilmen added single tallies in the third, sixth and eighth innings to account for the final score. The Panthers were on their third pitch of the game in only the second inning and used five total by the time the contest came to an end.
Hunter Ryan (Purdue Northwest / Hebron, Ind.) had a big day at the dish, notching four hits, driving in two runs and scoring three. Frank Napleton (Saint Leo / La Grange, Ill.) went 3-for-3.
The Oilmen will look to make it six straight wins on Friday night as Southland visits Oil City Stadium at 7:10 p.m. on Miller Lite Pint Night. All Miller Lite Pints will be available for the discounted price of $2 at the stadium concession stand. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Will Trubshaw will call the action on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live.
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