07/01/2021 11:11 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 1, 2021 – Mother Nature may have put the Northwest Indiana Oilmen winning streak on pause during a rain-filled stretch, but the Oilmen picked up right where they left off on Thursday night at Oil City Stadium.
After playing just once in a 12-day span as seven of the team’s eight scheduled games were rained out, the Oilmen returned to the diamond with a 7-5 victory over the Chicago American Giants to extend their winning streak to seven.
This marks the longest Oilmen winning streak since rapping off seven straight to close out the 2018 season and is one win away from tying the franchise record for longest winning streak.
“It was unbelievable to finally be back on the field,” Oilmen manager TJ Marik said. “As everyone could tell, we were a little rusty today with the way we played defense, but it was awesome getting back out there. This is where I want to be every single day. It was great to spend time with the players and get a win.”
Colin Bruce (Black Hawk / Naperville, Ill.) launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the third to expand the Oilmen lead to 5-0, and later clubbed a two-run shot in the seventh to make it 7-4. He finished the day with five RBIs after totaling six in his first 13 games of the season. He had one extra-base hit in his first 13 contests before launching two round-trippers on Tuesday.
“I’ve said this all season: Colin Bruce can hit,” Marik said. “Average-wise he’s struggled all year, but he’s hit balls right at people and just mishit a few balls. When he’s hot, he’s hot, and our guys in the dugout know that too. This may have been a breakout party for Colin Bruce. He puts together unbelievable at-bats every time. If he goes down 0-2, you’re pretty certain he’s going to work the count to 3-2. That ability contributed to the day he had today.”
Bruce became just the seventh player in Oilmen history with a two-homer game, joining Billy Miller (2012), Tyler Srocznyki (twice, 2016), Jake Perreira (2016), Zack Jones (2017), Joe Rycerz (2019) and Kendal Ewell (2020).
Jack Guzek (Iowa / Manhattan, Ill.) improved to 4-0 on the season by allowing four runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out six and walking none over six innings. He had several soft singles against him and pitched around several Oilmen defensive miscues. He took over the league lead in strikeouts as he now has 32 this year and 112 in his Oilmen career.
“Jack pitched like he has all season,” Marik said. “If it’s not a swing and a miss, then it’s soft contact. That’s what Jack Guzek does. If he doesn’t get a swing and a miss, he’s not going to give up barreled balls, and he proved that once again today.”
Nick Miketinac (Butler / St. John, Ind.) made his fourth appearance and first relief outing of the year, permitting one run on one hit in two frames. Brandon Laux (Kirkwood CC / Chicago, Ill.) struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 ninth inning to nail down the save, preserving the two-run win for the Oilmen.
“Brandon’s past two outings have been awesome,” Marik said. “A lot of his friends are on the Giants, and he told me he wanted the ball today. When you have a guy who wants to come out and compete against his friends, that’s great to see. He had some extra pop on his fastball and he was able to command the zone. He’s done of great job of that his past two outings.”
The Oilmen (10-4) committed five errors but found a way to work around them in the first-ever home game against the Giants (8-7), who are in their first season in the Midwest Collegiate League. The win allowed the Oilmen to retain sole possession of first place in the MCL as they hold a ½ game lead over the Joliet Generals (10-5), who also prevailed on Thursday.
The Oilmen and Giants will face off again on Friday, this time at Gouwens Park in South Holland, Ill. at 7:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Leo Staudacher and Zach Carr on the call.