06/03/2021 9:08 PM -
Hammond, Ind. – June 3, 2021 – It probably wasn’t how TJ Marik drew up his first victory as Northwest Indiana Oilmen manager, but the first-year skipper will certainly take it.
The Oilmen mustered up just three hits, but manufactured enough offense to top the Southland Vikings 5-4 on Thursday evening at Dowling Park in Hammond.
“It feels way better than it did yesterday,” Marik said with a laugh. “The first loss kind of stung, but this first win feels good. I’m excited to see what this team has in store the rest of the year.”
The Oilmen surrendered a pair of unearned runs in the fourth to start the scoring, but capitalized on two Southland errors to tie the game at two in the sixth. Jacob Ferry (Morehead State / Aurora, Ill.) drove in one with a fielder’s choice bouncer, while the second crossed the plate on a Viking miscue.
The Vikings started the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back extra-base knocks as Logan Anderson tripled and Pat Doran doubled. Both eventually came around to score to allow the hosts to regain a two-run edge, this time 4-2.
The Oilmen again rallied to tie the game in the top of the seventh, making Southland pay for starting the inning with consecutive hit batters. AJ Wright (Northwood / Griffith, Ind.) drove in one on a fielder’s choice, then Jimmy Carey (St. Charles / Tinley Park, Ill.) plated the second tally by lifting a game-tying sacrifice fly to right.
It remained 4-4 until the top of the ninth, when again a hit batter came back to haunt the Vikings. Luke Montgomery (Purdue Northwest / Orland Park, Ill.) was nailed with a pitch, then advanced on a two-base throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt before being awarded the plate on a balk to put NWI ahead 5-4.
“We struggled early on with runners in scoring position,” Marik said. “We had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth and didn’t score. Even though we didn’t capitalize early, we eventually found ways to score. That’s huge to find a way to win a game when you only have three hits.”
Hunter Keim (Saint Leo / Rock Island, Ill.) took over on the mound for the Oilmen in the seventh inning with the game tied at four and went the rest of the way, earning the victory with three scoreless innings of one-hit relief. He struck out six while walking just one.
“Hunter Keim is the man; I love Hunter,” Marik said. “You can’t ask for much more from a guy coming out of the bullpen in a tough spot for the last three innings. He threw two zeros up there and then had to come back out with a one-run lead and keep us in front. He did a great job coming out and throwing strikes. It was a really good starting point for him; I’m excited to see how his season goes.”
Wright had posted two hits in each of his first two Oilmen games, accounting for two of the team’s three base knocks on Thursday. The Oilmen (1-1) are still seeking their first extra-base hit of the season after being outhit by the Vikings (1-2) 6-3.
The Oilmen will return to the diamond on Friday against the MCL Minutemen at 5 p.m. at Riverside Park in Hammond. Note the change from the originally-announced location. The game will be broadcast on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey, Leo Staudacher and Vince Martorano on the call.