By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – Aug. 9, 2020 – The tying run came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the string of late-inning Northwest Indiana Oilmen rallies in matchups with the Southland Vikings came to an end on Sunday afternoon at Oil City Stadium.
After walking off to beat the Vikings in each of the team’s first three trips to Whiting this season, the Oilmen incurred a 6-3 setback.
“You have to tip your cap; their starter did a very good job of keeping the ball down,” Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham said. “I’m a big fan of his breaking ball. Their reliever did a good job too, and we lost a baseball game. This one didn’t have the same feeling as the comebacks, I’ll tell you that much.”
Costa Sirounis (Indiana / Munster, Ind.) had his best offensive day of the season, ripping a double down the left-field line, a triple to the gap in left-center and launching a deep fly ball to right that just missed a home run.
“He had three barrels and was swinging the bat very well today,” Cunningham said. “His swing has looked good lately. He’s swinging a hot bat.”
The Vikings (18-15) were powered by Matt Monahan, who had two home runs in the first three innings, a three-run blow in the first and a two-run job in the third. He finished with three hits. The Oilmen (21-11) got three runs in a fifth inning that was highlighted by a two-out, two-run single by Tyler Nelson (Indiana / Crown Point, Ind.) to take a bite out of what had been a 6-0 Southland lead.
However, it was nothing but zeros the rest of the way as Chris Miller earned his first save with three shutout innings of one-hit ball. Jacob Kampf was the winning pitcher to up his record to 2-0 after six quality innings while yielding three runs on five hits.
Joe Rotkis (Morehead State / Granger, Ind.) was touched for six runs on eight hits and three walks over five innings in his final outing of the season, but wrapped the season as a valuable member of the team’s pitching staff with a 3.41 ERA while striking out 37 and issuing just eight walks over 37 innings. He took the loss to see his record finish at a deceiving 0-3.
The Oilmen bullpen played a key role in keeping the team in the game as Luke Pappas (Western Michigan / Chicago, Ill.) flipped three scoreless frames before Conner Tomasic (South Suburban / Schererville, Ind.) retired the side in order in the top of the ninth.
The Oilmen have lost back-to-back games for the second time this season and will look to avoid their first three-game skid of the year on Monday at 5 p.m. against Southland at Dowling Park in Hammond. Brandon Vickrey, Andrew Fish and Jack Theil will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live. The Oilmen enter Monday just ½ game ahead of DuPage County for first place in the MCL standings with five days left in the regular season.
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