07/22/2013 10:48 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 22, 2013 – Three local products paved the way to victory for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Monday night in a pivotal Midwest Collegiate League showdown with Lexington.
Lake Central graduate Jimmy McNamara pitched eight dazzling innings, Andrean alum Kenny Mahala blasted his first home run of the year and Bishop Noll’s Matt Pobereyko latched down his league-leading fifth save as the Oilmen topped the Snipes 5-2 at Oil City Stadium. Northwest Indiana also showed off the leather, making several sharp defense plays including a diving snag by right fielder Rashawn Tillman.
“With a guy like McNamara pitching, you’re not going to get a lot of opportunities, so if they get squandered by good defense, then it kind of makes you feel defeated,” Oilmen manager Justin Huisman said. “They hit a couple of nice, hard balls there and the one that really could have done some damage, Tillman made a nice play on and ended the threat.”
With the win, the Oilmen took a one game lead over Lexington for second place in the Midwest Collegiate League.
Mahala’s home run came with one out in the bottom of the second of a scoreless game. He took advantage of a hanging curveball from Lexington starter Josh Tonozzi, who went on to take the loss.
“Home runs are pitched, not hit,” Mahala said. “That’s how I’ve been taught. I just sat back on a curveball and he hung it, so I was swinging.”
After allowing three earned runs in six innings last week against Southland in what he described as his worst outing of the year, McNamara found a way to bounce back. He surrendered just two runs, one of which was earned, on seven hits over eight innings.
“It was a big game; we were tied for second place with those guys,” McNamara said. “I got ahead of guys; I definitely had incentive to do better. I was more excited on the mound tonight to bounce back from that start I had last week.”
McNamara was making what he said will most likely be his final start of the regular season before he takes the mound for game one of the postseason on Tuesday, July 30. The opponent and location of that game are still to be determined as the Oilmen, Snipes, DuPage County Hounds and Southland Vikings vie for playoff positioning. All four squads have already clinched postseason berths.
“I think we are all just concentrating day by day right now,” Huisman said. “There’s so many games left in a short amount of time that anything can happen with the standings. Right now, we’re all just focused on how much pitching we’re going to need to finish the next four or five days, and then go from there.”
Chris Marras, Gerrad Rohan and Leiff Clarkson all turned in two-hit games. Clarkson has now turned in 13 multi-hit games this season.
The Oilmen return to the Oil City Stadium diamond on Tuesday night for a double header with the Rockford Foresters with the first game slated for 5:10. Fans are encouraged to bring their four-legged friends to the ballpark for Bark in the Park Night. NWI now stands at 18-12, three games behind first place DuPage, one game ahead of third place Lexington and 1.5 games in front of fourth place Southland.