By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – July 12, 2019 – A night where excitement was in the air ended with disappointment for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
Visiting Southland took the lead with a run in the eighth and tacked on another in the ninth to capture a 4-2 win in front of a good crowd on a pleasant Friday night at Oil City Stadium.
The Oilmen (15-12) had an opportunity to move into a tie for first at the All-Star Break with a victory on Friday, but instead they saw their five-game winning streak screech to a halt. The Vikings (17-10) bounced back from a rough week to keep sole possession of first place in the Midwest Collegiate League standings.
“If we had thrown strikes like we were capable of, caught the baseball, thrown the baseball or gotten our bunts down, we would have won the game,” Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell said. “If we had done one of those four things that we are capable of doing, we would have won. If we had done two of them, it’s not even close. That’s encouraging from the standpoint that we know we’re better, but it’s disappointing because we were on a hot streak and we didn’t capitalize on a chance to stay hot going into the break.”
Jackson Dvorak (University of Missouri St. Louis / New Lenox, Ill.) lifted a sac fly in the bottom of the first to start the scoring, picking up his 23rd RBI of the season in the process. Southland scored twice in the top of the fifth to take a short-lived lead, but the Oilmen responded as Ben Berenda (IU Southeast / Rensselaer, Ind.) delivered an RBI double that tied the game at two in the bottom of the inning.
It stayed 2-2 until the top of the eighth, when a wild throw to first on a potential inning-ending double play ball allowed the go-ahead run to score for Southland. The Vikings added one in the top of the ninth, before the Oilmen got the potential tying run on base but didn’t score in their final at-bat.
NWI used five pitchers in the game as starter Brandon Laux (Kirkwood CC / Chicago, Ill.) allowed one run on one hit and five walks in 4 1/3 innings. He received no decision, while Chris Torres (Wabash Valley / Chesterton, Ind.) took the loss after allowing two runs (one earned) in two innings, his first decision of the year.
“The plan going in was to use five guys on the mound,” Tyrrell said. “We had used Laux for two innings on Tuesday and knowing that his pitch count was going to be limited today, he wasn’t very efficient, but he wasn’t hittable either. Neither Laux nor Torres threw strikes very well tonight, but nobody could hit them, so that should be good for their confidence. We were getting pitchers work tonight and preparing ourselves for later in the season.”
The Oilmen ran into Southland ace Justin Rios, who improved to 6-0 with seven innings of two-run ball, while Mike Tobin pitched two scoreless frames to nail down his fourth save.
The 2019 Midwest Collegiate League All-Star Game will take place at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday night at Oil City Stadium as the MCL East All-Stars (NWI, Southland and Crestwood) battle the MCL West All-Stars (DuPage County, Joliet and Bloomington). Brandon Vickrey and Jon Zaghloul will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available on the Oilmen Facebook page. Free live stats will be available for the All-Star Game courtesy of GameChanger. Visit NWIOilmen.com to purchase tickets to the game.
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