By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – July 10, 2020 – A dazzling effort on the mound went to waste on Friday night as the Northwest Indiana Oilmen incurred a narrow 3-2 defeat to visiting Crestwood at Oil City Stadium.
The loss was as “tough luck” as they come for Joe Rotkis (Morehead State / Granger, Ind.) in relief as the Oilmen right-hander permitted just one run on two hits while striking out six and walking none over five frames. However, that one run – which came in the sixth – proved to be the difference on a night where the Oilmen offense struggled to cash in.
“We’ve got to swing the bats better,” Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham said. “We pitched really well today and did what we were supposed to do on the mound. We just didn’t get the timely hits, and we’ve got to find a way to be better offensively.”
Costa Sirounis (Indiana / Munster, Ind.) made his first start of the summer and went three innings, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out five. Terry Busse (Valparaiso, Ind. / South Suburban) struck out a pair in his inning of scoreless relief.
“Rotkis pitched his tail off,” Cunningham said. “You can’t ask for much more. He had command of his fastball and breaking ball. It was a good outing from Costa, and Busse threw well and gave us a chance in the ninth.”
The Panthers (2-5) jumped in front first during a third inning that saw Cameron Bufford club an RBI double and later score on a wild pitch. The Oilmen (4-2) responded with two of their own in the bottom of the third as Tyler Nelson came through with a two-run single. NWI seemed primed for more, but the Panther infield turned its second double play in three innings to help extinguish the threat.
Neither team scored again until the sixth, when Giovanni Lopez delivered a pinch-hit, run-scoring double that put the Panthers in front for good. Ayden Head did the rest, striking out seven over four innings of hitless relief. He sent down 11 straight before hitting a batter with two outs in the ninth. Clay Thompson (Kankakee / Schererville, Ind.) stole second to move the tying run into scoring position, but Head got the final out to nail down the save. Starter Max Engstrom allowed two runs over five innings to earn the win.
The Oilmen were limited to five hits, led by Andre Demetral (Florence Darlington / Rochester, Mich.) with two.
NWI will return to action on Saturday night at 6:10 p.m. as the Southland Vikings come to town. Tickets are available now on NWIOilmen.com. Those who cannot attend can catch the action on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey and Andrew Fish on the call.
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