07/22/2021 8:21 PM -
Hammond, Ind. – July 22, 2021 – On paper, Thursday appeared to be a favorable matchup for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. However, the games aren’t played on paper.
The host Southland Vikings went with a “bullpen day” on the mound, while the visitors were playing in back of their unbeaten ace, Jack Guzek (Iowa / Manhattan, Ill.). But it was Southland that invoked the 10-run rule with an 11-1, eight-inning victory at Dowling Park in Hammond.
“There’s nothing that we could do, honestly,” Oilmen manager TJ Marik said. “I actually thought we played OK. If you look at the box score, you probably won’t think we played well, but it was one of those days where the Vikings found every hole and got every hop and we didn’t. They were better than us today.”
Guzek (5-1) took his first defeat of the year after allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and one walk while striking out four in six innings. The Vikings poured on five in the seventh against the Oilmen bullpen to break the game open, then two more in the eighth to invoke the 10-run rule.
“Guzek’s first two innings were a little rusty, like every pitcher probably would be after missing a start,” Marik said. “He came out and gave us four very strong innings when he settled in. He did a tremendous job battling adversity and going as long as he did on a limited pitch count.”
The Oilmen scattered 10 hits with AJ Wright (Northwood / Griffith, Ind.), Jacob Ferry (Morehead State / Aurora, Ill.) and Tommy Klco (Missouri Valley College / Bloomingdale, Ill.) all enjoying multi-hit outputs. James Harris (UIC / Chicago, Ill.) drove in the lone NWI run of the game in the second, at the time cutting the deficit to 3-1 with an RBI single.
Three Vikings (13-17) combined on the strong pitching performance, highlighted by former Oilmen first baseman Joe Rycerz, who tossed 3 2/3 shutout frames of one-hit ball while striking out five. The biggest play of the game came when Rycerz induced a 5-4-3 double play from the first batter he faced in the fourth, escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam and keeping the Vikings in front 4-1.
“The name of the game is throwing strikes, and the Vikings threw a lot of strikes,” Marik said. “They pitched to contact, and we made pretty hard contact all day. There were 1-2 innings where we didn’t barrel a ball at somebody, but they did what they needed to do to get the win.”
The Oilmen (17-7) will attempt to bounce back on Friday at Riverside Park in Hammond at 5:05 p.m. against the MCL Minutemen. The game will be broadcast on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey, Leo Staudacher and Vince Martorano on the call.