07/10/2014 11:20 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 11, 2014 – Oilmen catcher Andrew Ray debuted a pair of glasses for Friday night’s game against the Lexington Snipes. Those glasses seemed to make all the difference, as the Michigan City graduate launched a solo homer in the sixth inning, an insurance tally in a 4-1 victory over Lexington.
Ray, who entered Friday’s game with a .167 batting average this season, wore his prescription glasses for the first time all year. The decision to go with the glasses paid immediate dividends.
“We tried out contacts and that didn’t work, I got irritated eyes, so I tried out glasses for the first time,” Ray said. “The ball was like a beach ball it was so big.”
The home run, which was the first by an Oilmen player at Oil City Stadium this season, traveled over the tall brick wall in left field. Ray now has two of the team’s three long balls this year.
Ray also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the second inning, plating James Meeker. Meeker busted out of a 3-for-24 slump with two hits and two RBIs.
Nate Schneider also enjoyed a two-hit game, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Rob Blissitt went 2-for-3, while Butler’s Brodie Meyer was 0-for-2 with a walk in the first start of his Oilmen career.
The Oilmen offensive stars were numerous on Friday night, but no player was more critical to the victory than starting pitcher Nick Nauracy. The Crown Point graduate bounced back from a wobbly relief appearance on July 5 by yielding only one run over seven innings.
“Nick’s got great stuff,” Oilmen manager Justin Huisman said. “When his mechanics are on and he’s confident out there, he’s as good as anybody we have. When he’s struggled, he just hasn’t quite hit the zone when he wants to. He knows that and I’m fully confident that down the stretch, he’s going to do a good job for us.”
Nauracy gutted through the seventh inning, making it his longest outing of the season. The Snipes threatened with runners at first and third and one out in the seventh, but Nauracy worked out of the jam after a mound visit from Huisman.
“I was trying to get that double play ball and I got a couple ground balls, but it just wasn’t working out,” Nauracy said. “Coach came out there and tried to settle me down, which helped bring my confidence back up. I was able to make good pitches and get the final out.”
Nauracy picked up the win to improve to 3-2, while Brett Fanning took the loss for the Snipes. Anthony Gomez worked a scoreless eighth inning before Matt Pobereyko struck out the side in the ninth to secure his ninth save.
Lexington’s only tally came on a run-scoring single by Adam Casson in the sixth inning. The Oilmen scored twice in the second and once in the third before Ray’s sixth inning homer accounted for the final margin.
Friday night started a grueling stretch of playing 12 games in 10 days.
“We’ve got a tough stretch, not just with how many games, but we’re actually playing the top three teams a lot,” Huisman said. “It’s important to get some momentum and motivation going right away.”
The Oilmen (17-10, 15-9) now hold sole-possession of third place in the Midwest Collegiate League, while the Snipes (16-12) drop to fourth.
The Oilmen host the DuPage County Hounds on Latin Night at the ballpark on Saturday. Gates open at 4 p.m. to celebrate Latin culture with Mariachi, Ballet Forklorico and Latin music. Tickets are available by visiting NWIOilmen.com.