By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – Aug. 4, 2019 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen will enter the playoffs on a winning note after their final tune-up for the postseason on Sunday at Oil City Stadium.
The Oilmen scored three in the bottom of the eighth to enjoy the last laugh in a back-and-forth affair, beating DuPage County 13-11 in a regular season finale that had no impact on the MCL standings.
“It was awesome to close the regular season on a position note,” Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell said. “Hopefully we can keep the offensive momentum going. Sometimes, you get in games like that where it doesn’t mean anything, and neither team cares who wins, and it creates a lull. I don’t think we’ll fall into that because we’re pretty excited. We’re going to have to play our best baseball to beat Southland. They’ve been the team that makes the least amount of mistakes when we play them. We like what we have rested going into the playoffs. We’re going to do whatever we’ve got to do to stay alive.”
The Oilmen (23-18) went 13-7 over the last 20 games and closed the regular season by winning four of their last five. They finished third in the standings and will face second-place Southland in a three-game MCL semifinal series beginning on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at St. Rita High School. The second game of the series will take place at Oil City Stadium on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m., before it shifts back to Chicago for the decisive game on Thursday if necessary.
The Oilmen trailed 3-0 on Sunday before scoring six times in the fourth to take the lead. Three of the runs scored on bases-loaded hit by pitches, one on a bases-loaded walk and one on an error. NWI received another run thanks to an error in the sixth, expanding the edge to 7-3. However, the Hounds rallied for five in the seventh including a bases-clearing double by Dino Biggers to take an 8-7 lead.
The seesaw battle continued when the Oilmen regained the lead with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Malik Peters (Northern Illinois / Calumet City, Ill.) scored the go-ahead run on an aggressive base-running play, scoring from first on a two-run, go-ahead single by Brandon Petkoff (Texas A&M Corpus Christi / Frankfort, Ill.). The Hounds came right back with two in the eighth to tie the game at 10, but the Oilmen got three in bottom of the eighth courtesy of two bases-loaded walks and the fourth DuPage County error of the game.
Patrick Doran (College of DuPage / Evergreen Park, Ill.) was the winning pitcher in relief despite allowing eight earned runs on 11 hits and two walks in four innings. Position player Nick Zeeveld took the loss by pitching the eighth for the Hounds (20-21), who finished with a losing record for the first time in the eight-year history of the franchise.
Jackson Dvorak (Missouri St. Louis / New Lenox, Ill.) had three hits and drove in a pair to finish the season with 37 RBIs, tied with Southland’s Jake Schroeder for the Midwest Collegiate League lead. This will mark Dvorak’s final week with the Oilmen after three seasons with the team and four in the league.
“He’s meant a ton to our team,” Tyrrell said. “It’s his personality more than anything. He just loves coming to the ballpark and it rubs off on everybody. The summer season tends to be a grind, and it never shows in his demeanor and his energy. It’s always positive and always rubs off on our guys. That made the summer a lot better for everybody.”
The playoff opener on Tuesday at St. Rita will be aired on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live. Brandon Vickrey, Will Trubshaw and Blake Toman will have the call with the broadcast beginning at approximately 3:50.
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