06/25/2022 7:57 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 24, 2022 – A slow start to the season is officially in the rearview mirror for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
The Oilmen jumped out to a 5-0 lead through two innings on their way to a 9-5 win over the Southland Vikings on Friday night at Oil City Stadium.
The win marked the team’s fourth straight as the Oilmen (13-10) took over sole possession of second place in the Northern League standings. NWI also pulled to within three games of first-place Lake County as the Corn Dogs fell in extra innings to Crestwood. The mood around the Oilmen is a far cry from where it was following Monday’s loss to the Vikings when the team slipped to below .500 at 9-10.
“The feeling is that we’re still very fresh,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “Our players aren’t burned out yet because we’ve been able to mix lineups and give our pitching rest to make sure everybody is at 100 percent when they get their day to play or pitch. The longevity of the season always wears on everybody, but we try to make sure that it wears on us the least so that when we get to July and August, we’re as dangerous of a team as we can be.”
Saturday’s early lead came thanks to patience at the plate as the Oilmen scored twice without the benefit of a hit in the first and scored on RBI singles by Kyle Tyler (Valparaiso / Alsip, Ill.) and Jack Zebig (Maryville / Plainfield, Ill.) in the second as part of a three-run inning. Southland pitching issued six walks and hit a batter in the first two innings alone. By game’s end, the Oilmen offense had accepted 14 free passes.
“We’ve done a really good job in the last couple of weeks of being in control of the strike zone, especially early in the count with less than two strikes,” Enright said. “We’ve done a nice job of knowing what we’re looking for and shrinking the strike zone to pitches that we can do damage with. Early on, there were a lot of very borderline pitches that we could have swung at and got ourselves out early in the at-bats, but our approach allowed us to drive the pitch count.”
Oilmen starter Frank Quinn (St. Ambrose / Chicago, Ill.) earned the win after allowing just one unearned run on five hits and one walk while striking out five in five innings.
“The behavior of Frank’s pitches usually induces a lot of swings and misses,” Enright said. “It usually takes him a lot of time to get through innings because his pace is a little bit slower than most. What he does is effective. All but the one outing where he came in relief, we’ve seen that out of Frank. He puts up a lot of zeros and it’s really hard to string a lot of hits together against him.”
Mike Freitas (Olivet Nazarene / Bourbonnais, Ill.) poked an RBI single in the fifth and Jack Zebig (Maryville / Plainfield, Ill.) lifted sacrifice flies in both the sixth and eighth innings. The eighth also featured an RBI double by Tyler as the Oilmen doubled the lead to four. Those insurance runs provided some breathing room after Southland (11-10) got back in the game with one in the fifth, three in the sixth and two in the seventh, trimming the lead to two.
Tyler had two of the team’s six hits on a day where the Oilmen prevailed despite being outhit 8-6 and committing three errors to Southland’s none.
The Oilmen will seek a fifth straight victory on Saturday night at 6:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. It’s Bark in the Park Night as fans are encouraged to bring their furry friends and the first 200 fans will receive a free doggie bandana. Tickets are available on NWIOilmen.com. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Adam Oppenheim will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, which is available via JED-TV, Region Sports, AM 1230 WJOB and Facebook Live.