07/14/2021 11:20 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 14, 2021 – An old-fashioned pitchers’ duel unfolded on Wednesday night at Oil City Stadium.
For the first six innings, a second-inning run by the Northwest Indiana Oilmen marked the only scoring in the game before the hosts pulled away for a 7-0 triumph over the visiting Crestwood Panthers.
Matt Lelito (Kankakee CC / St. John, Ind.) twirled six shutout innings while striking out eight and permitting just three hits to get the best of Crestwood’s Michael Laudando, who scattered 10 hits and yielded three runs over seven scoreless frames for the Panthers (12-13).
“Everything worked well for him,” Oilmen manager TJ Marik said. “Lelito is one of those guys, when he gets ahead in counts, he’s very tough to hit. When he does fall to 3-0, it’s automatic that he’s going to be back in the count. Our bullpen did a great job as well to complete another shutout for our pitching staff.”
Zach Westphal (Wabash Valley / Chesterton, Ind.) struck out four in his two smooth innings while Mike Bernas (Saint Leo / Orland Park, Ill.) put up a zero in the top of the ninth in his Oilmen debut. The pitching staff continued its recent roll on a day where the wind was blowing in.
Tommy Klco’s (Missouri Valley / Bloomingdale, Ill.) run-scoring single in the second was the only run until the seventh, while the Oilmen added two before pouring on three in the eighth. There were no extra-base hits in the game for either team. Gallien Coupet (Creighton / Flossmoor, Ill.) collected three hits on a day where the Oilmen consistently put the ball, as Panther pitching recorded just three strikeouts.
Luke Napleton (Quincy / La Grange, Ill.) has caught three games with the Oilmen, and in all three instances the team has pitched a shutout.
“He is a really, really good game caller,” Marik said. “He controls the game, and he calls literally everything. There are times where I sit there and try to see what he’s calling, and 99 percent of the time he calls the same thing I would call. He’s very mature. He’s great back there. Our guys are not afraid to throw balls in the dirt because they trust him behind the plate.”
The Oilmen (16-5) have won five consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. After having an eight-game streak snapped on July 5, the Oilmen have responded by rapping off five straight.
“There’s no quit in this team,” Marik said. “It’s one of those things where we lost one game, and our guys wanted to start another winning streak. One of our players texted our group chat, ‘Let’s get another eight right now,’ after the loss. These guys have a lot of confidence, and they’re playing like it.”
The Oilmen will return to the diamond on Thursday night as the Joliet Generals are in town for a 7:10 p.m. first pitch at Oil City Stadium. Tickets will be available at the ticket window prior to the game, and those who cannot attend can watch on JED-TV and AM 1230 WJOB with Leo Staudacher and Kevin Redfern on the call.