07/13/2015 8:03 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 13, 2015 – It wasn’t the most conventional of wins, but after going 1-6 in the previous seven games, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen will accept any victory with open arms.
With a storm rolling in, Brad Wood launched a go-ahead double to plate Fred Smart in the bottom of the sixth inning. The hit turned out to be a walk-off in a 4-3, six-inning win, as a downpour ensued, leaving the field unfit for play.
“I saw the rain coming and I said, ‘It’d be a good time for a run,’” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “Brad is one of the most competitive guys on the team. Most of the time when we have a big spot, he’ll get a hit or he’ll put a good at-bat together.”
Reid Birlingmair (1-1) sent the first nine Oilmen down in order, but a walk to Tyler Sroczynski to start the fourth disrupted his groove. Two batters later, Stefano Belmonte unloaded a two-run homer over the left-field scoreboard to cut into a three-run deficit. The Belmonte blast was the first Oilmen hit of the game.
“He’s always trying to hit the ball hard,” Enright said. “It’s never a tentative swing with him. With two strikes, he’s still swinging hard. If you take tentative swings, you’re going to make a lot of outs. He knows what he’s looking for and if he swings through it and misses, it’s a nice pitch. He’s all about effort on every swing, which is what you’ve got to be able to do if you’re going to hit at a high level.”
Jimmy Skiff (Purdue Calumet / Dyer, Ind.) allowed three runs in the third, but settled in to pick up the victory and improve to 4-1. He yielded nine total hits and struck out three.
“The Snipes are a team that can hit with two strikes, if you leave something that they can put a barrel on,” Enright said. “They did it a bunch (Sunday) and (Monday). They just hit with two strikes really well.”
Wood went 2-for-3, while Tyler Sroczynski reached twice and delivered a key, run-scoring double to tie the game in the fifth.
The Oilmen committed two errors and have now made nine in the last three games. Sam Geraci and Jordan Lewis each made errors, with Lewis making an errant throw to third on a base hit to right with a runner on second.
“Defensively, the mental errors are still exhausting,” Enright said. “They’re completely avoidable.”
The Oilmen (16-12) move into a tie for second place with the Snipes (16-12). Both teams are three games behind the first-place Hounds, who were idle on Monday.
The Oilmen visit the Admirals on Tuesday at 5 p.m., as Brandon Murray (South Carolina / Hobart, Ind.) takes the mound for his second start of the summer. The Oilmen then return home on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. to host Joliet on WJOB Night at the ballpark in support of Haven House.