06/11/2022 8:03 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 10, 2022 – No lead was safe on Friday night at Oil City Stadium.
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen bounced back from an early four-run hole to take a four-run lead of their own, but in the end the Joliet Generals returned home with a 10-9 victory on the shoulders of a five-run seventh inning.
“Pitching with the lead is the biggest thing,” Oilmen assistant coach Matt Vitulli said. “We gave up too many free bases. Once you start walking guys and giving away baserunners, one hit breaks it open.”
Joliet had grabbed the lead with a four-run first. The Oilmen offense took a step forward during the game, putting together nine runs on 11 hits.
“We were more ready to hit tonight,” Vitulli said. “We’re understanding what we’re trying to reach here. We’re catching the ball more out in front, and we’re trying to attack pitches more. That’s good, especially in hitters’ counts.”
The Generals got four in the opening inning as NWI starter Luke Pappas (Saint Leo / Chicago, Ill.) lasted only 1/3 of an inning, allowing four runs on two hits and four walks. He was relieved by CJ Byrdak (Iowa Central CC / Homer Glenn, Ill.), who was a major bright spot of the pitching staff as he twirled 5 1/3 shutout frames while scattering eight hits, issuing two walks and striking out four.
The Oilmen defense played errorless ball and turned three double plays.
“We took care of the ball a little bit better today,” Vitulli said. “We had a couple of games where we struggled with that. There are three phases of baseball, and hitting and pitching aren’t always going to be there, but defense has to be the one that always shows up.”
The Generals had baserunners galore as Oilmen pitching issued 12 walks and allowed 17 hits. The big blow of Joliet’s four-run first was a three-run homer by DeShawnte Carraway, who later started the seventh-inning rally with a leadoff triple. The Generals got a crucial insurance run in the top of the ninth to double the lead to two before the Oilmen got one back in the bottom of that inning.
The Oilmen scored in each of the first three innings including a four-run second that featured a go-ahead, bases-clearing double by Chris Baker (Trinity Christian / South Holland, Ill.). All of the runs in that inning were unearned as the Oilmen cashed in on a pair of Joliet errors.
Jack Zebig (Maryville / Plainfield, Ill.) had a big day at the plate, reaching base four times including three hits.
“Jack is a stud,” Vitulli said. “He’s been playing the game pretty well not only with the bat, but with the glove. He made some pretty impressive plays out there. He’s had some really good at-bats.”
The Oilmen (5-7) will host the first-place Lake County Corn Dogs on Saturday night at 6:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. It’s Oilmen Stan’s Birthday Bash featuring a bobblehead giveaway plus a kazoo giveaway for the first 200 fans to play Happy Birthday to Stan. The game will be broadcast on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network including Region Sports, AM 1230 WJOB and JED-TV with Brandon Vickrey and Leo Staudacher on the call.