06/05/2022 10:08 PM -
Griffith, Ind. – June 5, 2022 – It didn’t come easy, but the bottom line is this: The Northwest Indiana Oilmen returned to the win column on Sunday night.
The Oilmen saw an early six-run lead evaporate, but they eventually bounced back to force extras and scored four times in the top of the 11th to beat the Crestwood Panthers 11-7 at Griffith High School.
The Oilmen scored their four runs on six hits in a prosperous 11th inning.
“I think the biggest thing for us to score a lot of runs is to get into the opposing bullpen as early as we can,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “Early in the game, I think we give away at-bats, we don’t move the lineup enough and we don’t see enough pitches. If we don’t drive the pitch count up, their starters can go really deep into the game. That’s the most important thing that we have to do moving forward.”
Small ball played a role in the triumph as the Oilmen had a pair of bunt singles in the 11th. In addition, NWI scored the tying run in the top of the seventh thanks to the base running of Josh Mosley (Triton / Chicago, Ill.), who stole second and then swiped third and came home on a throwing error by the catcher.
“Something that is becoming more apparent to our guys is that you’re not just here for your at-bats,” Enright said. “You’re here for everything. You have to be better at all aspects of the game when you go back to your school. Those are things that obviously change the game. If we can steal bases, move up without getting hits and put bunts down to put pressure on the defense, those things play at all levels of college baseball. It’s nice to see that end up winning us the game so our guys see the value of it.”
The Oilmen jumped out to the early lead with three in the first thanks to a run-scoring double by Mosley and a clutch two-out, two-run single by Kyle Czarnecki (Kankakee CC / Minooka, Ill.). NWI took advantage of wobbly Crestwood defense to score three more runs in the third, doubling the lead to 6-0.
The Panthers scored four in the third (two earned) and three in the fifth (none earned), taking advantage of Oilmen miscues in a game where the two teams combined for 10 errors including a bizarre play where the Panthers managed to commit three errors on one play.
“You hate to see your pitchers have to throw 10-15 extra pitches to get out of an inning because they have to get a fourth out,” Enright said. “Our pitchers understand. They don’t get upset about it, but it limits them not only from having a good outing where they didn’t give up any runs, but also they don’t get to throw another inning because it puts them in a spot where they’ve thrown too many pitches.”
After the Oilmen gave up the lead, they stayed in the game thanks to stellar bullpen work by Nick Heiden (Aurora / Minooka, Ill.) and Jake Paymaster (Triton College / New Lenox, Ill.). The two combined for six shutout innings of two-hit ball and Paymaster earned the victory in relief.
“That was the game,” Enright said. “For those guys to come in and not walk hitters and to keep us feeling like all we needed to do was score one run was huge. That was the most important part of the game.”
Mosley, Michael Moralez (Trinity Christian / Portage, Mich.) and David Marshall (College of DuPage / Downers Grove, Ill.) had two hits apiece, helping the Oilmen outhit the Panthers 11-8.
The Oilmen (4-5) and Panthers (5-4) will meet again on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Ill. The game will air on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Region Sports, JED-TV, AM 1230 WJOB and the Oilmen Facebook Page) with Brandon Vickrey, Leo Staudacher and Josh Lipowski calling the action.