By: Brandon Vickrey
Hammond, Ind. – July 8, 2020 – The seventh inning changed the complexion of the game on Wednesday evening in Dowling Park in Hammond.
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen entered the bottom of the inning holding 4-2 lead, just nine outs away from the first 4-0 start in franchise history. Instead it was the host Southland Vikings who extended their franchise record for consecutive wins to start a season to five after scoring seven times to take a 9-4 lead that would stand as the final score.
Johnny Maynard (Lincoln Trail / Griffith, Ind.) had cruised through his first two innings in relief, but ran out of steam in the seventh, when he was charged with five earned runs after giving up three hits and two walks. The right-hander exited after permitting a three-run triple by Anthony Rios, and was eventually hit with the defeat in his first decision of the summer.
“Things just didn’t go his way in the seventh, but Johnny did a good job in the first two innings,” Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham said. “He gave us everything he had, but that’s baseball. The Vikings pitched better and played better defense that we did. We’ve scored some runs this season, but the big innings were handed to us. We haven’t really applied the pressure yet.”
The Oilmen (3-1) had jumped in front on a two-run double by Angelo Cantelo (Lewis / Blue Island, Ill.) in the third, an inning that saw Tommy Windt (South Suburban / Orland Park, Ill.) stroke a run-scoring single to extend the lead to 3-1. The Vikings (5-0) got one back in the third but left runners at second and third as Oilmen starting pitcher Mike Madura (Munster, Ind. / Munster) escaped with minimal damage.
Madura received no decision in his first start of the summer, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits in four innings while striking out two and walking one.
“Mike threw the ball really well,” Cunningham said. “We got some quality innings out of him, and I was happy to see Mike do well. He’s going to be a big part of our plan going forward.”
The Oilmen made it interesting with three hits in the top of the ninth, including Tyler Nelson (Indiana / Crown Point) rapping his fourth hit of the day. With the tying run in the on-deck circle, Southland manager Dave Letourneau went to closer Mike Tobin, who recorded the final two outs to nail down the save.
“Tyler does everything you could ask for,” Cunningham said. “He’s looked really good in the field. He’s clearly been our best player so far.”
The Oilmen will be back in action on Thursday at 3 p.m. against the DuPage County Hounds. Since DuPage County’s home field is currently unavailable, the game will be played at Oil City Stadium. However, it will be closed to the public and no fans will be admitted. Therefore, the only option to catch the action is to tune in on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Sam Oppenheim (filling in for Brandon Vickrey) and Andrew Fish on the call.
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