07/17/2015 10:55 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 17, 2015 – The play that won the second game of Friday’s doubleheader for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen was one highly reflective of the team’s current mindset.
It wasn’t a clutch piece of hitting or a long home run. It wasn’t a double off the wall or an outstanding defensive play. It wasn’t even a stellar pitching performance, though the Oilmen did get one from Enrique Zamora.
Instead, it was simply Josh Turnock hustling to second base on a ground ball on the infield that proved to be the difference in a 1-0 win over the Southland Vikings. The victory secured a doubleheader sweep after the Oilmen won the opening game 4-3.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning of a scoreless game, Jordan Lewis grounded one up the middle. Vikings second baseman Tyler Johnson fielded and flipped to a covering Kendall King, but Turnock was ruled to have slid in safely before the ball was gloved by King.
With Turnock safe at second, Brad Wood scored on the fielder’s choice to give the Oilmen the lead.
“A lot of guys in summer ball running from first to second will give up on that,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “Josh is running because he knows that if he gets to second, we score a run. Guys are starting to play a little harder and put a little more effort in because they know every wins counts to get us back in the race.”
Vikings manager Tony Sanchez put up a heated argument with base umpire Andre Morgan after the bang-bang play at second.
“From my angle, I couldn’t really tell,” Enright said. “I had a terrible look at what happened. My opinion was that the flip was a little soft. If it was a hard flip, there’s no debate.”
Enrique Zamora shattered the Oilmen single-game strikeout record, becoming the first player in the four-year history of the team to strike out 11 opposing batters in a single game. He issued six walks but only three hits while heaving 7 2/3 shutout innings. Zamora notched the victory to improve to 4-1.
“After the first inning, everything was working for me,” Zamora said. “I feel like the guys are realizing what we have here. We’re realizing that we can bring something great to Oil City.”
A light rain turned into a steady downpour as the Oilmen batted in the bottom of the eighth inning. Consequently, Northwest Indiana won a rain-shortened game for the second time this week, 1-0 in eight innings.
Southland starter Matt Sandoval yielded only two hits but walked seven in 5 1/3 innings. John Swisher (1-2) was hit with the loss in relief.
The Oilmen (19-12) prevailed despite stranding 15 runners on base.
In the opener, Oilmen starter Brian Jestice (3-1) gutted through 5 2/3 innings and gave up only three runs despite allowing six walks and eight hits. Sam Bell nailed down his first save by getting the final four outs of the seven-inning game. Justin Freeman took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Brian Seymour went 3-for-4 and Zack Jones had two key hits in the opener. Fred Smart ripped a run-scoring single in the fourth that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Vikings (8-20) have lost seven straight games and are now 1 ½ games behind Michigan City for fifth in the MCL.
Long gone is the four-game losing streak that started the second half. It has been replaced by a four-game winning streak that the Oilmen carry into Saturday’s 7:10 game against the Michigan City Lakers.
“They’re starting to enjoy it again,” Enright said. “They can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re still in the race for winning the league. They’re starting to be interested in the standings. I think we lost focus of that and were sleep-walking through the stretch where we didn’t play well.”
The Oilmen are now tied with Lexington for second place in the Midwest Collegiate League, with both teams chasing the DuPage County Hounds by three games. The Hounds were victorious on Friday over Joliet, while the Lakers and Snipes were rained out. DuPage County has won seven consecutive games.