06/10/2021 4:14 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 10, 2021 – The winning formula has been no secret so far during the early stages of the Northwest Indiana Oilmen season: The team that throws more strikes wins the game.
A taxed Oilmen pitching staff was challenged in that area on Thursday as the Crestwood Panthers worked 14 walks en route to a 13-10 victory at Oil City Stadium. The Oilmen have been facing early-season pitch-count limitations imposed by players’ schools and have several pitchers who are still completing their spring seasons.
“The past two days, we’ve thrown a lot of pitches,” Oilmen manager TJ Marik said. “When you use 15 pitchers in three days, it’s really hard to win. That’s something I have to keep in the back of my mind. The health of these guys is my No. 1 priority, and it’s going to stay that way. There are guys who went into college this year that didn’t get that many innings because of older players returning for their extra year of eligibility, so we have to limit their pitches this summer.”
The Oilmen (3-3) faced a quick turnaround on Thursday with an 11:10 a.m. start time after a night game on Wednesday. The early start was part of Kids Day at the ballpark with hundreds of Crossroads YMCA children in attendance to enjoy the game.
One pitcher who did find the zone for NWI was Nolan Lorenz (IU South Bend / LaPorte, Ind.), who hurled three scoreless innings of three-hit ball while walking one and striking out three.
“Seeing Nolan Lorenz come out and compete was great,” Marik said. “He threw a lot of pitches in a short amount of innings, but he came out and competed. You have to give credit to the Panthers because they fought with two strikes; they battled and put balls in play. They did what you need to do offensively to elevate pitch counts.”
Offensively, the hosts put together three straight crooked numbers in the second, third and fourth innings, including a four spot in the fourth. That came after Crestwood had taken the lead with five in the top of the fourth and created a high-scoring 9-8 battle through five frames. The bullpens did a strong job in the middle of the game as the teams traded zeros in the fifth, sixth and seventh.
Each team scored twice in the eighth before the Panthers (6-5) added two more insurance runs in the top of the ninth. In many of the run-scoring innings, the Oilmen had opportunities for even bigger frames but left ducks on the pond, stranding 13 runners in the contest.
Zamaurion Hatcher (Michigan / Chicago, Ill.) ripped a pair of doubles and joined Mike Carey (John A. Logan / Tinley Park, Ill.) as Oilmen players with multi-hit outputs.
“Zamaurion is the man,” Marik said. “He walks around with a lot of confidence and knows he’s a really good player. To be able to succeed in this game, that’s what you have to do. He’s very easy going and loose, and I’ve had a lot of fun coaching him.”
The Oilmen will be back in action at 7:05 p.m. on Friday at Gwendolyn Brooks High School in Chicago for the team’s first-ever matchups with the Chicago American Giants. Leo Staudacher and Zach Carr will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which on Friday night will be available free of charge via Facebook Live.