By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – Aug. 7, 2019 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen season lives to fight another day.
The Oilmen bested Southland 7-2 in Game 2 of the best-of-three Midwest Collegiate League Semifinal Series on Wednesday night at Oil City Stadium, forcing a decisive third game on Thursday at 4 p.m. at St. Rita High School.
The big blow of Wednesday’s game came off the bat of Ben Berenda (IU South Bend / Rensselaer, Ind.), who unloaded a bases-clearing double to highlight a five-run fifth. That inning snapped a 2-2 tie and sent the Oilmen on their way to the triumph.
“The postseason has been when Ben has decided to put himself second and the team first,” Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell said. “He’s been a switch hitter all summer, and he’s much better from the left side. Instead of working on his development for these postseason games, he’s going to help his team win games. He’s been batting lefty against left-handed pitchers to help the team score more runs.”
The Oilmen had tied the game at two in the sixth on a triple by Jackson Dvorak (Missouri St. Louis / New Lenox, Ill.), who was playing in his final game with the Oilmen as he is returning to school. Southland took an early 1-0 lead before Jake Plastiak (Wabash Valley / Tinley Park, Ill.), also in his final game of the summer, ripped a two-out game-tying single in the third.
The Oilmen made four errors, but the Vikings uncharacteristically made three that proved costly.
“There was a call that didn’t go their way, and it reminded me of when we were at their place in the regular season and a call didn’t go our way,” Tyrrell said. “We weren’t tough enough in that game to overcome it and made mistakes afterward. They made a few mistakes after the call didn’t go their way, and that’s uncharacteric of that team. You can count on that not happening tomorrow, because they don’t do that twice in a row.”
Oilmen starter Max Franklin (Chicago Heights, Ill.) left after allowing two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out six over 4 ⅓ innings. He received no decision, but Anthony Hernandez (College of DuPage / Chicago, Ill.) was brilliant in relief, tossing 3 ⅔ scoreless innings while yielding just two hits and no walks. He earned the victory, while Southland ace Justin Rios took the defeat despite pitching well. He allowed five runs (two earned) on seven hits in six innings.
“On Tuesday, I was going to leave Anthony in for longer than an inning and burn him to save Chris Torres, but my pitching coach (Kyle Klosak) convinced me to take him out so he could come back tonight,” Tyrrell said. “He wasn’t sharp yesterday, but he hadn’t thrown in a while and he tends to get sharper his second time out. He was really sharp tonight. He’s usually been a one-inning guy, but tonight it didn’t matter who was up there, he was going to get them out. He had confidence in his cutter, two-seam and sinker. We needed that badly tonight.”
The Bloomington Bobcats swept the DuPage County Hounds in the other MCL Semifinal Series, so the Bobcats will host the winner of Thursday’s game on Friday night. The Oilmen and Vikings will play the decisive game of their series at 4 p.m. on Thursday at St. Rita High School in Chicago. Brandon Vickrey, Blake Toman and Will Trubshaw will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network.
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