Clutch Hits Late Help Oilmen Edge Hounds in Pitchers’ Duel

By: Brandon Vickrey

Whiting, Ind. – July 16, 2020 – Pitching was the name of the game for most of the evening, but it was the Northwest Indiana Oilmen offense that came through at the right time on Thursday night at Oil City Stadium.

Tommy Windt (South Suburban / Orland, Park, Ill.) ripped a two-run double to the warning track in deep left to snap a 1-1 tie in the eighth, lifting the Oilmen to a 4-1 victory over the DuPage County Hounds in a battle of two of the Midwest Collegiate League’s top teams.

“I’m glad I could help the team win,” Windt said. “He threw me a curveball the pitch before, so I knew he was going to try to beat me on the inside with a fastball. I turned on the fastball, and it worked out well. Joe (Rotkis) had a great outing for us, and kept his streak of quality innings going. Our pitchers work hard, so it’s been nice to see their success.”

The Windt double was followed by a Tyler Nelson (Indiana / Crown Point, Ind.) RBI single to account for the final margin. Joe Rycerz (St. Xavier / Schererville, Ind.) and Conner Tomasic (Purdue / Schererville, Ind.) each doubled in the fifth, the second of which plated a run to snap a scoreless tie. The Hounds (8-3) responded with a game-tying run in the top of the sixth.

“Facing one of the top teams in the league, this was a big victory for us,” Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham said. “It was nice to see us come out with a win. The big hit by Tommy Windt was good to see.”

Quality arms were on display for most of the contest. The starting pitchers on both sides were good enough to earn victories, but instead settled for no decisions as they matched each other pitch for pitch. DuPage County’s Seth Masters yielded just one hit and no walks over four scoreless innings, while Joe Rotkis (Morehead State / Granger, Ind.) heaved six quality frames of one-run, five-hit ball while walking one and striking out five for the Oilmen.

“We’ve been blessed with some really good pitching,” Cunningham said. “Our staff from top to bottom has been solid. Rotkis has been dealing all year. From top to bottom, we’ve had unbelievable pitching. We’ve got to keep guys healthy and keep it going.”

Rotkis was followed by Isaiah Coupet (Ohio State / Flossmoor, Ill.), who was once again impressive with two hitless innings of shutout ball. Coupet (3-0) picked up the victory before Joe Graziano (Butler / Schererville, Ind.) worked a one-two-three ninth to nail down his first save. Nick Bacarella (0-1) was hit with the defeat for DuPage County.

Rotkis worked out of a trouble early as DuPage County stranded the bases loaded in the first. Ryan Ross was cut down 9-6-3 in the second inning trying to stretch a double into a triple, as right fielder Kendal Ewell (Eastern Kentucky / Calumet City, Ill.) continued to show off his cannon of an arm with his third outfield assist of the season.

The victory allowed the Oilmen (8-3) to climb into a first-place tie with the Hounds entering Friday’s showdown with Southland (9-4), a team that sits just percentage points behind the top spot. The Vikings and Oilmen will match up at 7:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. As always, Friday means $2 Pint Night with discounted beers available at the stadium concession stand. Tickets can be purchased now on NWIOilmen.com. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and guest analyst Dave Melton will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live.



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