By: Blake Toman
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen solidified their playoff position in the Midwest Collegiate League on Sunday, July 28 after splitting a doubleheader with the first-place Southland Vikings at St. Rita High School. Both games had strong pitching performances and were dotted with timely hits from both sides, with the Oilmen winning the first game 4-3 in extra-innings and losing the second game 5-1.
The first game of the doubleheader featured a battle of the southpaws, as Nate DeLoian (Carson-Newman College / Mokena, Ill.) took the mound for the Oilmen against Jake Rupert (St. Xavier University / Tinley Park, Ill.) of the Vikings.
The Oilmen would strike first in the fourth inning when Patrick Doran (South Suburban College / Evergreen Park, Ill.) would double to drive in Jackson Dvorak (University of Missouri-St.Louis / New Lenox, Ill.) to give the Oilmen a 1-0 lead. However, the lead didn’t last long as the Vikings would respond with a three-run fifth inning.
Reliever Anthony Hernandez (College of DuPage / Chicago, Ill.) would enter the game to relieve DeLoian in the sixth, pitching a scoreless inning to keep the Oilmen just two behind the Vikings. His performance would prove crucial, as the Oilmen would score two runs in the top of the seventh on a Jake Plastiak (Wabash Valley Community College / Tinley Park, Ill.) double to tie the game at 3-3.
Chris Torres (Wabash Valley Community College / Chesterton, Ind.) would hold the Vikings scoreless in the seventh to send the game into extra-innings, where Dvorak would hit a solo home run on the very first pitch in the top of the eighth to give the Oilmen a 4-3 lead. Torres would close the door in the bottom of the eight to secure the Oilmen’s third victory against the Vikings this season.
“It was a solid day at the plate for Dvorak and Plastiak,” Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell said. “Both of them had the right approach at the plate today and that’s the key for our offense. We have to have the right mental approach when we come up to the plate.”
The second game of the doubleheader featured St. Rita alumnus Max Franklin (Illinois State University / Chicago Heights, Ill.) on the mound for the Oilmen against the Vikings’ Mike Tobin (Concordia University / Hickory Hills, Ill.).
The first two innings were quiet for both teams, as each pitcher set down the opposing hitters in order. In the third inning, the Oilmen were able to jump out to a 1-0 lead on a Brandon Petkoff (Texas A&M - Corpus Christi / Frankfort, Ill.) solo home run.
“Tobin is a great pitcher and was throwing well on the mound today for the Vikings,” Tyrrell said. “But Petkoff had his number today. His approach at the plate was great and it paid off.”
The Vikings would strike back in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game on an Anthony Rios (Lewis University / Lemont, Ill.) double that would drive in his brother, Justin Rios (North Central College / Lemont, Ill.). The Vikings would take the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, notching four runs on just two hits. Franklin would leave the game in the fifth inning with a respectable line, giving up only one hit on the day, while walking two and striking out one.
“I wasn’t expecting Franklin to go as far as he did into the game,” Tyrrell said. “He really hasn’t pitched a lot this season, so I was expecting three innings at the most. But he got the job done and made it through four.”
This time the Oilmen would be unable to mount a comeback, as Tobin would hold the Oilmen without a hit in the sixth and seventh innings to notch his first complete game of the season and a 5-1 win for the Vikings.
The Oilmen now enter a home stretch to close out the regular season as they look to secure a spot in the MCL playoffs. Their next game is against the Joliet Generals on Tuesday, July 30 at 7:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. Brandon Vickrey and Sam Oppenheim will have the call on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen Broadcasting Network, accessible via Facebook Live.
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