By: Brandon Vickrey
Lansing, Ill. – July 15, 2020 – A few early long balls with an ace on the mound proved to be a winning formula for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Wednesday afternoon at Lansing Old Timers Field.
The Oilmen scored multiple runs in each of the first three innings on their way to a 9-2 victory over host Crestwood in Midwest Collegiate League action.
The tone was set in the opening inning when Kendal Ewell (Eastern Kentucky / Calumet City, Ill.) belted a three-run homer, then Clay Thompson (Kankakee / Schererville, Ind.) added a two-run bomb in the second to up the lead to 5-0.
Tyler Nelson (Indiana / Munster, Ind.) and Angelo Cantelo (Lewis / Blue Island, Ill.) continued to be a quality one-two punch in the middle of the order, notching two hits apiece. Cantelo extended his hitting streak to eight games.
“Tyler and Angelo are a big part of our team,” Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham said. “We want to keep those guys healthy, but we also want to keep their bats in the lineup and keep them sharp.”
The early offense was more than enough for starting pitcher Jack Guzek (Iowa / Manhattan, Ill.), who still has not yielded an earned run in three starts this season. He notched a win for his first decision of the summer, going six innings of four-hit ball while issuing no walks and racking up nine strikeouts.
“I threw really well; all of my pitches were working today,” Guzek said. “When I’m throwing three pitches for strikes, it’s hard to hit. It’s been tough after a long layoff, so it’s good to get in a rhythm now that we’re two or three starts in.”
Guzek (1-0) has struck out 17 against just two walks in 13 innings this summer.
“He’s just so efficient,” Cunningham said. “He pounds the zone with all of his pitches. No moment is ever too big for him. It was excellent to see him go out there and throw six innings.”
Terry Busse (Valparaiso / Valparaiso, Ind.) allowed two unearned runs on one hit and two walks in his inning, then Luke Pappas (Western Michigan / Chicago, Ill.) sent down six of the eight men he faced over the final two frames and fanned five.
“Pappas is starting to get his legs back underneath him,” Cunningham said. “He’s going to be a big part of our plan going forward.”
The Oilmen (7-3) tacked on two runs in the third as Cantelo notched his ninth RBI of the year, then added another in the fourth and one more in the eighth en route to the win.
“We’re in a good place right now,” Cunningham said. “Our guys enjoy coming out to the park every day and they’re staying healthy; that’s the most important thing. We’ve just got to continue to grind every day and bring good energy and a good attitude to the ballpark.”
Crestwood (3-8) starter Ryan McGrath (0-1) was hit with the defeat after allowing eight earned runs in four frames.
NWI will return to the diamond on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. for a showdown with the DuPage County Hounds. Tickets are available on NWIOilmen.com. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Tom Gorski will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live.
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