By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – July 6, 2020 – It’s hard to select what stood out the most in Monday’s victory for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
The team dominated all three phases with pitching, defense and hitting to dispatch Joliet 11-0 and improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2015.
“It’s a good, loose group of guys,” Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham said. “They want to win and they come out here ready to compete. It’s fun. We’ve got a streak going, and hopefully we can keep that going by continuing to get good pitching and quality defense.”
The game was close all the way until the sixth inning, when the Oilmen had their third inning of six runs or more in the last two days, this time piling on eight tallies to break open what had been a three-run lead. Nick Anderson (Kankakee CC / Highland, Ind.) lifted a sacrifice fly in the second, an inning that saw the Oilmen manufacture two runs on one hit. Tyler Nelson (Indiana / Crown Point, Ind.) doubled home a run in the fifth, then a stretch of nine straight men reached base without an out being recorded in the lengthy sixth inning.
“Our guys are honing in when they need to in those big innings,” Cunningham said. “We had a lot of two-strike hits, and Anderson did a good job finding ways to get on. We’ve played small ball to get runs, and when we’ve had chances for big innings, we’ve been doing it.”
The Generals (0-3) had just one hit over the first seven innings, as Harrison Hayes cracked a single to right in the third. Even that play turned into an Oilmen highlight, as right fielder Kendal Ewell (Eastern Kentucky / Calumet City, Ill.) uncorked a strike to third to gun down Daniel Gutierrez, who was trying to go first-to-third on the play. After that, 14 consecutive Generals were sent down by Oilmen pitching until a two-out, pinch-hit single in the eighth.
Starter Luke Pappas (Western Michigan / Chicago, Ill.) picked up the win after tossing two scoreless innings without allowing a hit while yielding two walks and one strikeout. Tommy Windt (South Suburban / Orland Park, Ill.) was dominant over four shutout frames of one-hit ball, walking one and striking out four.
“It was great to get back on the mound again,” Windt said. “My changeup was really on; I was throwing that the majority of the time. I used a fastball-changeup combo. We’ve talked a lot about how many innings we have to cover each week, so I was happy I could help the team by going four innings.”
Kyle Iwinski (Griffith, Ind. / Griffith) was sharp over the final three innings, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out three.
“All of our guys were pounding the zone, and we played really good defense,” Cunningham said. “It was one of those games where our guys were confident throwing the baseball. It’s good to see a lot of good arms and guys doing a good job eating innings.”
Former Oilmen right-hander Andrew Hancock took the loss for Joliet despite allowing only one hit and two runs (none earned) in his two innings.
The game that was slated to take place on Tuesday against the MCL Minutemen has been cancelled and will not be made up. The Oilmen will return to the diamond on Wednesday at 5 p.m. against the Southland Vikings at Dowling Park in Hammond. Brandon Vickrey, Andrew Fish and Jack Theil will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live on the Oilmen Facebook page.
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