By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – July 17, 2020 – This time it was Nick Anderson’s (Kankakee CC / Highland, Ind.) turn to play the role of hero at Oil City Stadium.
Anderson ripped a two-run, walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night to lift the Northwest Indiana Oilmen to yet another dramatic victory, 7-6 over rival Southland to climb into a first-place tie with DuPage County in the Midwest Collegiate League standings. Tyler Nelson (Indiana / Crown Point, Ind.) scored the winning run on a close play at the plate, sliding in just ahead of the tag by the Southland catcher.
“I’ve been struggling for the last two or three games, so I wasn’t trying to do too much,” Anderson said. “I knew from last year that (Southland pitcher Mike Tobin) had me on the breaking balls, so I was sitting curveball the whole time. The first one I saw right out of his hand, and it was a ball. Then I saw one I could do something with, and poked it over the shortstop’s head, and that’s the game.”
The Oilmen (9-3) beat the Vikings (9-5) in walk-off fashion for the second consecutive week. It seems as if someone new delivers each night as Kendal Ewell (Eastern Kentucky / Calumet City, Ill.) walked it off last week while Tommy Windt (South Suburban / Orland Park, Ill.) had an eighth-inning go-ahead double in Thursday’s victory over the Hounds.
“These guys come ready to work,” Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham said. “We’re putting different guys out there, so it’s next man up and everyone is going to get their shot. It’s a lot of fun in games like that. It was a close baseball game, a few things went our way, and we found a way to come out with a victory.”
Starter pitcher Costa Sirounis (Indiana / Munster, Ind.) was bounced early after yielding two runs in the first, but Kyle Iwinski (Kankakee / Griffith, Ind.) logged four frames and scattered seven hits while permitting three runs (two earned). The key arm was Terry Busse (South Suburban / Valparaiso, Ind.), who gave up just one run on one hit over three frames.
“I’ve never gone three innings in a game, so it was good to settle in,” Busse said. “The first inning I was out of control, and I was able to settle in for the other two innings. I’ve never thrown this much or made this many appearances, so it’s been quite an adjustment on my arm. I’ve been placing a huge emphasis on recovery.”
Conner Tomasic (Purdue / Schererville, Ind.) picked up the win after working a scoreless top of the ninth, marking his first decision of the summer. Mike Tobin (1-1) blew the save and was hit with the defeat.
“I can’t stress enough how important it was that Terry Busse was able to give us three strong innings,” Cunningham said. “The sixth, seventh and eighth were absolutely enormous, then Conner did his thing in the ninth.
Michael Machnic (Webber International / Walkerton, Ind.), pinch hitter Nelson and Windt had a string of three straight singles that set up the Anderson winner. Anderson notched the fourth consecutive hit, simultaneously nailing down the fourth consecutive win for NWI.
Machnic clubbed his team-leading second home run of the season to lead off the third. The only two home runs at Oil City Stadium by the team this season have come off Machnic’s bat. The Oilmen went on to total four runs in the third including a two-run single by Andre Demetral (Florence Darlington / Rochester, Mich.).
The prosperous third inning gave the Oilmen a 5-2 lead, but the Vikings got one in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth to gain a 6-5 edge in the back-and-forth affair. The score stood until the crack of Anderson’s bat that scored two and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Machnic and Demetral had two hits apiece to lead the way, while Angelo Cantelo (Lewis / Blue Island, Ill.) extended his hitting streak to nine.
The Oilmen will look to capture their fifth straight victory on Saturday night at 6:10 as the MCL Minutemen come to Oil City Stadium. Tickets can be purchased on NWIOilmen.com. The game will be carried on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network (via Facebook Live) with Brandon Vickrey and Alex Coil on the call.
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