07/16/2013 10:57 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 16, 2013 – Since the Oilmen joined the Midwest Collegiate League, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen and Southland Vikings have engaged in their fair share of games that go down to the wire. Tuesday night was no exception as Southland prevailed 6-4 courtesy of a three-run ninth inning rally against NWI closer Matt Pobereyko.
“We’ve all been there as closers and he wasn’t throwing strikes tonight with just about any of his pitches,” Oilmen manager Justin Huisman, who converted 90 career saves in eight minor league seasons and one save in the big leagues, said. “Hopefully he can get back out there tomorrow and bounce back right away.”
The Oilmen had snatched the lead in the eighth when Joe Houlihan walked with two outs, swiped two bases and scored on an infield single off the bat of Anthony Bova.
Northwest Indiana dropped four of the seven regular meetings with the Vikings, as the season series concluded with Tuesday’s game barring a postseason matchup. Southland is the closest MCL opponent in terms of proximity, playing its home games just 40 minutes from Oil City Stadium at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Illinois.
“I would say it’s a good rivalry,” Huisman said. “There’s no bad blood or anything like that. We enjoy playing each other.”
Huisman pointed toward good pitching when asked why games between Southland and NWI result in photo-finishes with regularity.
“Usually, when you have low-scoring, close ball games it’s because of good pitching and not timely hitting,” he said. “They (the Vikings) are a good ball club. They’re doing a good job out there and I would say both pitching staffs are doing a good job against each other.”
The Oilmen made Alex Lesiak work in the bottom of the ninth as they came up a base hit shy of tying the game. Craig Austgen struck out to end the game with runners at second and third.
Jack Czewszewski and Bova had two hits each. Gavit graduate Aveeno Nasiloski pitched two strong innings of relief after starter Jimmy McNamara allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings. Southland starter Kevin Halberg issued seven walks and surrendered three runs on four hits in five innings.
As they jockey for playoff positioning, the Oilmen (14-9) will try to take advantage of playing five games in the final two weeks of the season against the last-place Chicago Zephyrs (3-15), beginning Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Ill. The Oilmen have never lost to the Zephyrs in eight all-time meetings, going 6-0 in 2012 and 2-0 so far this season against Chicago.