06/04/2015 8:29 PM -
Joliet, Ill. – June 4, 2015 – There were no two ways about it entering Thursday’s game in Joliet: the Northwest Indiana Oilmen needed an extended outing out of starting pitcher Brian Jestice.
After starters Keith Mahler (three innings) and Brandon Barnes (one inning) were limited by injuries in the first two games of the season, the spent Oilmen bullpen could ill afford another short outing.
Jestice (Evansville / Hoffman Estates, Ill.) hadn’t pitched four complete innings in any of his 16 appearances at Evansville during the spring season. He hadn’t toed the rubber in a game situation since May 10.
It mattered not, as he delivered 6 1/3 innings of two-run, six-hit baseball and notched the win as the Oilmen fended off Joliet 5-3. With the victory, Northwest Indiana improved to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Jestice struck out seven and issued no walks. He did not allow a run until the seventh inning and finished with a pitch count of 86.
“I felt like I was able to help the team,” Jestice said. “I didn’t feel there was a lot of pressure to (eat innings), but it was nice to help the bullpen. Those guys have been helping us out a lot. It’s all about being able to throw strikes and get ahead in counts.”
Jestice understood the importance of the deep outing, but manager Adam Enright took it a step further.
“It may have saved the week for us,” he said. “If he gets beat around in the first couple innings and we’ve got to go to the ‘pen right away, we’d be in a tough spot for three days over the weekend of trying to piece things together. Him going (6 1/3) innings was something we absolutely needed.”
The Oilmen did the bulk of their offensive damage in the sixth inning against Joliet pitcher David Schurr, who took the defeat in his season debut. Alec Olund’s two-run double was at the center of a four-run uprising that expanded a narrow one-run edge to a five-run cushion. Tyler Sroczynski (Wabash Valley / Trinity Christian / Dyer, Ind.) and Brian Seymour (South Suburban College / Lansing, Ill.) also contributed RBIs.
Although the Oilmen bullpen was not pressed into early action, it remained an important aspect of the game. Richard Yelnick (Parkland / New Lenox, Ill.) continued his stellar start to the season by retiring all five men he faced. He has now sent down all 14 batters that have come to the plate against him this season. Yelnick inherited two runners from Jestice in the seventh, but left both stranded.
“He has a little funkiness and a little velocity,” Enright said. “He commands two pitches. He’s tough from the left side after you have a righty who throws a little harder. I think he’ll be a guy who will bridge the gap to the closer for us.”
Purdue’s Jordan Lewis started the game as the designated hitter, and finished it on the mound. He was not used as a pitcher this spring for the Boilermakers, but had a career ERA of 1.52 at Escondid High School in California.
Lewis notched the save, despite yielding a run-scoring single by Micah Coffey, who had three hits. The Admirals had the tying run on base, but Lewis struck out Josh Bergbreier to secure the victory.
Sroczynski and Josh Turnock (Eastern Illinois / Granger, Ind.) had two hits apiece.
The Oilmen visit the Michigan City Lakers on Friday at 5 p.m. for the fourth game in a stretch of six straight away from Whiting to start the season. The game can be heard on NWIOilmen.com starting at 4:50.
The first home game at Oil City Stadium this season is set for Wednesday, June 10 at 7 p.m. against the Joliet Admirals. It’s Entourage Night at the ballpark, as fans are encouraged to bring their entourage with them for a night of fun while catching their first glimpse of an exciting summer of Oilmen baseball.