06/16/2015 10:34 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 16, 2015 – It’s become a repeatable formula for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
Fall behind early, come from behind late.
In the opening game of the homestand, it was a ninth-inning rally that forced extras against Joliet. In the homestand’s second game, the Oilmen used a seventh-inning outburst to defeat DuPage.
As the homestand concluded on Tuesday night, it was the eighth inning’s turn. The Oilmen rallied for three runs to capture the lead in an eventual 6-5 victory over DuPage County. In the process, Northwest Indiana improved to 7-2 and moved into sole possession of first place in the Midwest Collegiate League.
“We’re just so confident,” Oilmen outfielder Jordan Lewis said. “We come out every single game expecting to win. We know that even until the end, we’ve still got time to come back. We know that we’re the better team on the field, and we’re just going to go out there and play.”
Lewis finished with two hits, Fred Smart stroked two hits and Stefano Belmonte led the way with a three-hit day. Belmonte started the scoring and extended his hitting streak to six games with a single in the first that plated Brad Wood.
Joe Jumonville (Northern Illinois / Munster), Smart (Siena College / Evanston, Ill.) and Xavier Warren (Parkland / Granville, Ill.) had the RBIs in the three-run eighth inning for the Oilmen.
Jimmy Skiff (Purdue Calumet / Dyer, Ind.) picked up the win with three innings of strong relief, the second time the Andrean alum (2-0) notched a victory in the game against the Hounds this season. Skiff allowed one run on two hits over three innings and struck out five.
In total, 13 Hounds were retired via the strikeout in the game. Starter Christian Howell (Minnesota State Mankato / Aurora, Ill.) fanned eight, but yielded four runs on four hits in six innings. Two of those runs came on a two-out, two-run single by Carrier in Howell’s final inning of work.
“You manage your way into a two-run deficit because you leave your starter out there for two too many hitters,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “If we lost that game, it was going to be squarely on me because once they got a runner on second base in the sixth; I think we should have went right to Jimmy. If I could do it all over again; I would have done that.”
The first-year Oilmen skipper was also hard on himself when analyzing another important play in the game. Zack Jones was doubled up after motoring half way to second on a line drive by Joe Jumonville that was caught in center. The play cost the Oilmen a run as Sam Geraci followed with a double that would have likely plated Jones.
“When we got doubled off first, I was mad at Zack Jones, but I was thinking about who his baserunning coach is in the spring,” Enright said. “That’s me, so you can’t be mad at anybody else but me.”
Enright’s self-criticism may be harsh, but there’s little criticism coming from outside sources. After all, the Oilmen are off to a 7-2 start in his first season at the helm.
DuPage County’s Trent Carrier (0-1) took the defeat, allowing four runs on seven hits in four innings of relief. The Hounds (6-3) drop to 0-3 against the Oilmen this season.
“The more we win, the more confident you get,” Lewis said. “Everybody feels it on the team, and that’s what really keeps us going.”
The Oilmen will look to continue their hot start on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Lexington Snipes at Illinois Wesleyan University. The game can be heard on AM 1230 WJOB and NWIOilmen.com.