05/29/2022 8:36 PM -
Crown Point, Ind. – May 29, 2022 – The eight-run fifth was supposed to be the story for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Sunday afternoon.
That changed in the bottom of the eighth, when the host Lake County Corn Dogs one-upped the Oilmen by putting together a nine-run frame, rallying from seven down to win a zany series finale 14-12 at Legacy Fields in Crown Point, marking the third consecutive loss for the Oilmen, all to Lake County.
“We’re going to continue to get better with how we prepare to play,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “We want to give guys the tools that will help them grow as baseball players. Typically, the wins and losses will take care of themselves when you have guys working to get better, and we have that. I’m not hitting the panic button just yet.”
The Oilmen trotted out four different pitchers in the eighth inning alone as the Corn Dogs sent 14 men to the plate. NWI pitching issued four walks and hit a batter in that inning, which also featured six hits. The big blow was a two-run single by Cal Curiel that flipped the scoreboard in favor of the Corn Dogs at 13-12.
“They got big hits when they needed them,” Enright said. “It didn’t help that we walked a few guys, but they had more hits than us. They outhit us, so they deserved to score more runs. We’re trying to establish roles on the pitching staff and establish who we can count on late. Those guys who had a little bit of a hiccup in that inning are going to get more opportunities. It’s early in the summer.”
Although the Lake County comeback overshadowed the performance of the Oilmen offense, Northwest Indiana did turn it around at the plate after scoring just one run in the previous two games combined against the Corn Dogs (3-1). The Oilmen (2-3) exploded for the eight-run fifth with help from four walks, two hit batters and two defensive mistakes, but they also had several clutch hits including a two-run single by Joe Cosenza (College of DuPage / Downers Grove, Ill.). Seven of the eight runs came with two outs in that inning.
“We did a better job of doing damage at the plate,” Enright said. “We approached our at-bats to do damage instead of being more defensive with our swings and our approach. One guy whose box score won’t reflect how well he hit today is Kyle Czarnecki. He hit every ball on the screws. Without the wind, he probably hits two home runs. Improvements like that were good to see.”
NWI tacked on four in the top of the seventh including a two-run double by Chris Baker (Trinity Christian / South Holland, Ill.), at the time expanding the lead to seven at 12-5.
The Corn Dogs started the scoring with three in the first and also pushed across two in the fifth prior to their marathon eighth.
“The Corn Dogs have a handful of the best position players in the league,” Enright said. “All of their left-handed bats are very good. Their starting pitching was very good all three games. That’s the makeup of consistent winners in our league – good starting pitching and guys who can do some damage at the plate.”
Oilmen starting pitcher Jake Paymaster (Triton College / New Lenox, Ill.) exited in line for the win, but ended up with no decision after allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits in four innings while walking three and striking out four.
The Oilmen received multi-hit outputs from Jason Hodges (John A. Logan / Park Forest, Ill.), Jack Zebig (Maryville / Plainfield, Ill.), Dom Curcio (Aurora / Plainfield, Ill.) and Nolan Rimkus (Belmont Abbey / Orland Park, Ill.). Zebig and Hodges reached base four times apiece, while Curcio was on base three times and drove in four runs.
The Oilmen will visit the Crestwood Panthers on Monday at 1 p.m. at Dowling Park in Hammond, Ind. Note that the start time and location have changed from the original schedule. Leo Staudacher and Josh Lipowski will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, available on AM 1230 WJOB, JED-TV and Region Sports.