07/13/2021 11:33 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 13, 2021 – Tom Egan (Iowa Western / Chicago, Ill.) expected to throw on Tuesday night at Oil City Stadium, but the right-hander had no idea how quickly he’d be pressed into duty.
The incoming freshman made his first college-level start on moment’s notice and scattered three hits while striking out three and walking none over four shutout innings as the Northwest Indiana Oilmen topped the visiting Chicago American Giants 9-4.
“The No. 1 thing you have to do is tip your cap to Tom Egan,” Oilmen manager TJ Marik said. “He’s showed us several times that he’s very competitive and isn’t afraid of the moment. He gave us four very strong innings and did exactly what I expected him to do against a very talented lineup.”
Egan’s spot start came after scheduled starter Nick Miketinac was scratched for precautionary reasons after experiencing minor discomfort during his pregame warmups. But the Oilmen responded to adverse circumstances by continuing their tear, winning their fourth straight and prevailing for the 12th time in the last 13 games to improve to 15-5 overall, 3 ½ games ahead of second-place Joliet for the top spot in the MCL standings. This marks the best record through 20 games in the 10-year history of the franchise as the team’s previous best 20-game start was 14-6 on three occasions.
“This is a very talented group that is fun to watch every single day,” Marik said. “I’ve had a blast coaching these guys and being able to run this team. I couldn’t ask for anything more from these guys. They’re playing the way I thought they were going to play. They come out every single day ready to go. It looks like they have fun every pitch of every game, and that’s really all I can ask for.”
The Oilmen put up a pair of crooked numbers early in the game, scoring twice in the first before adding three in the third. AJ Wright (Northwood / Griffith, Ind.) doubled and scored in the fourth and NWI appeared to be in cruise control, leading 6-0. However, the Giants (11-10) battled back with four in the fifth inning including a booming two-run homer by Jaylen Patterson to make it a 6-4 game.
Left-handed reliever Tommy Klco (Missouri Valley College / Bloomingdale, Ill.) bounced back with a strong second inning of work after surrendering four (only one earned) in the fifth and put a zero on the board in the sixth. Nolen Lorenz (IU South Bend / LaPorte, Ind.) hit two batters and walked one in his first frame, but received a key outfield assist from Wright, who backed up an overthrow on a stolen base and put his throw to third on the money to record an important out on the bases. Lorenz settled down in the seventh by inducing four soft ground balls – three outs and one single.
The Oilmen added on late as Cole Kmet (Notre Dame / Arlington Heights, Ill.) walked and scored in the seventh before a two-run eighth that featured doubles by Christian Williams (Michigan State / Carmel, Ind.) and Wright sandwiched around a run-scoring single by Gallien Coupet (Creighton / Homewood, Ill.). Coupet, Wright and Kevin McCormick (Evansville / Orland Park, Ill.) finished with two hits apiece.
“This was one of those games where we had to punch balls the other way and put the bat on the ball,” Marik said. “The Giants are a team where you have to be scrappy if you want to win. We’re a very scrappy group. Our guys come out and play the game the right way every time. That’s something we have to continue to do if we want to keep this rolling.”
The Oilmen will host the Crestwood Panthers on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. Tickets will be available at the stadium box office prior to the game. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Jon Zaghloul will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, available via JED-TV and AM 1230 WJOB starting at 7.