07/25/2013 8:11 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 25, 2013 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen moved closer to locking up home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs by virtue of a solid 5-1 win over Rockford at Oil City Stadium.
The Oilmen did all of their damage in the second and third innings, scoring twice in the second and three teams in the third before rolling to the victory. Michael Steensen worked six and two-thirds innings of one-run baseball, as a leadoff walk to Sean Carroll in the sixth translated into the only Forester run.
“It’s big getting my curveball and staying back on that,” Steensen said. “Lately, I’ve kind of been struggling staying back on that. It’s been hanging it up in the zone, so I’ve just been staying back long enough for it to be low in the zone.”
Steensen said he was aggressive early in the count and worked hard to put hitters away with his out pitches.
Northwest Indiana’s one-two late relief punch of Aveeno Nasiloski and Matt Pobereyko came on to secure the victory. Nasiloski tossed an inning and one-third before Pobereyko retired the side in order in the ninth.
“I’m just trying to get them some consistent work in, so that once the playoffs start they’re sharp,” Oilmen manager Justin Huisman said.
Anthony Bova and Joe Houlihan reached base three times each. Houlihan's second-inning double drove in a run as part of NWI's three-run rally.
The Oilmen improve to 21-12 and move within 1.5 games of DuPage County pending the outcome of Thursday night’s game between the Hounds and Southland Vikings. Also pending the results of Thursday’s other games, the Oilmen are three games ahead of both Southland and Lexington for second place in the MCL entering the final three days of the regular season.
“I take a look [at the scores from other league games] because you have to plan ahead,” Huisman said. “We’re just trying to get home field advantage as much as possible, so we need to be in first or second to at least ensure that for the first round.”
With Thursday’s win, the Oilmen swept the season series with the Foresters, who reside in fifth place in the MCL. The Oilmen also improved to 39-15 in games played in the confines of Oil City Stadium in the two years of the franchise’s existence.
“Sometimes it just happens that way,” Huisman said. “Teams just get comfortable playing at certain venues. That just makes it all the more important to get home field advantage in the playoffs.”
NWI will travel to Sugar Grove for a road meeting with the Chicago Zephyrs on Friday before closing out the regular season on Sunday at DuPage.