07/31/2013 11:10 PM -
Bloomington, Ill. – July 31, 2013 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen piled up a franchise-record 23 hits on their way to clinching a spot in the Midwest Collegiate League Championship Series with a 17-9 steamrolling of the Lexington Snipes.
The Oilmen are back in the MCL Finals after capturing the league title in their inaugural season of 2012.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys, new faces, so this is their first time experiencing the championship in this league,” Oilmen manager Justin Huisman said. “We’re happy to be back.”
Northwest Indiana, which improves to 6-0 all-time in postseason play, looked as if it may receive its first playoff setback when the Snipes led 7-3 going to the fifth inning. However, the Oilmen turned the game around by scoring seven times in the frame.
Tyler Baar delivered a two-run double that plated Kenny Mahala and Craig Austgen to start the rally. Then, Chris Marras, Leiff Clarkson, Jack Czeszewski and Mahala, who had two hits in the inning, all drove in runs to help the Oilmen match the franchise record for runs in a single inning of a postseason game.
Czeszewski tied teammate Nick Bartolone’s NWI record for hits a single game with five to lead the Oilmen offensive explosion. He reached base in all six trips to the plate and took part in the fifth inning hit-parade that altered the complexion of the game.
“I think we just wanted to win,” Czeszewski said. “When we were down 7-3, it looked like guys were a little down but we just kept fighting. We didn’t want to play tomorrow. We just wanted to get this [series] over with.”
Oilmen starter Joe Cochran was touched for seven runs in his start, but the Oilmen offense picked him up. NWI scored 29 runs in the two-game sweep of the Snipes.
“It obviously wasn’t one of Joe’s best nights, but he battled out there and we had an opportunity to win and when you’re hitting the ball like that, sometimes you can have a rough outing,” Huisman said.
After the Oilmen took a 10-7 lead in the fifth, they tacked on two more in the sixth, scored one in the eighth and put an exclamation mark on the victory with a four-run ninth. Closer Matt Pobereyko came on to record the final three outs in a non-save situation.
The Southland Vikings blasted the DuPage County Hounds 12-1 to sweep the other Midwest Collegiate League semifinal series in upset fashion. With the No. 1 seed now eliminated, the Oilmen have home field advantage for the championship series, which starts on Friday night at 7:10 at Oil City Stadium. Hanover Central graduate Andy Wellwerts, who was the winning pitcher in the championship-clinching game in 2012, will take the mound for the opener.