By: Brandon Vickrey
Lemont, Ill. – July 26, 2019 – An eventful ninth inning culminated with DuPage County celebrating on the field on Friday night at the Lemont Sports Complex.
Northwest Indiana’s Jake Plastiak (Wabash Valley / Tinley Park, Ill.) drilled a game-tying long ball to right to lead off the top of the ninth, but the Hounds responded with an unearned run in the bottom of the inning to walk off with a 4-3 victory over the Oilmen.
An error and a single set up a game-ending ground ball to shortstop as the throw home was too late.
Earlier in the game, the Oilmen saw several key chances slip away, notably a fourth-inning opportunity where the bases were full with nobody out and one run in the bank with the game tied at one. The Hounds escaped without further damage, and proceeded to take a 2-1 lead with an unearned tally in the bottom of the inning.
“We’ve got to start putting the ball in play with two strikes and the bases loaded,” Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell said. “I think we had three opportunities where we took strike three with the bases juiced. We knew the zone expanded when we had two strikes. It was talked about in the dugout before every one of those innings started, and we still took strike three. Catching and throwing the baseball is something we’ve struggled with. It’s going to be a struggle if we have to score 10 runs per game to win.”
Plastiak’s game-tying blast was his first of the MCL season to go along with one in the U.S. Military All-Stars exhibition. He was 0-for-4 previously in the game.
“A few innings before that, Jake was up with a man at second and nobody out,” Tyrrell said. “He jumped on the first pitch and pulled the ball to the right side because he knew we needed to get the runner to third base. We didn’t get it done, but he gave up his at-bat for the team because he knew the situation. That’s something we need more of. I think the baseball gods paid him back by letting him hit that home run. He has an outstanding approach as a ballplayer.”
Oilmen starting pitcher Jonny Vesevick (College of DuPage / Wheaton, Ill.) scattered seven hits over seven innings while yielding three runs (two earned) while striking out eight and walking just one.
“He didn’t have his best stuff, but he’s a bulldog,” Tyrrell said. “He can throw the ball in the strike zone even when he doesn’t have his best stuff because he has confidence in himself and his teammates. That was good to see. He’s not always going to have his best stuff, and when he does he’s really scary. I was proud of Jonny and the way he battled after a tough first inning. He had trouble early in counts and didn’t let calls impact his body language.”
Chris Torres (Wabash Valley / Chesterton, Ind.) took the defeat as he was on the mound in the bottom of the ninth. DuPage County’s Ben Snapp blew the save in the top of the ninth, but ended up being the winning pitcher.
Malik Peters (Northern Illinois / Calumet City, Ill.) and Clay Thompson (Kankakee CC / Schererville, Ind.) had two hits apiece, while Ben Berenda (IU Southeast / Rensselaer, Ind.) reached base four times including three walks.
The Hounds (18-15) leaped ahead of the Oilmen (17-15) for third place in the MCL standings with the victory. Northwest Indiana will return to action on Saturday afternoon at Howie Minas Field for a game against Crestwood that begins at 1 p.m. Brandon Vickrey, Blake Toman and Jon Zaghloul will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live.
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