07/21/2015 10:20 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 21, 2015 – After a detrimental loss on Sunday afternoon that negatively impacted Northwest Indiana’s chances for the top spot in the Midwest Collegiate League, it would have been easy to vision the Oilmen coming out flat on Tuesday.
Instead, they did just the opposite, steamrolling their way to an 8-1 win over Southland.
A lack of clutch hitting plagued the Oilmen in the second inning, when they had runners at second and third with no outs and one run in, but failed to score any additional runs. However, the trend of stranding men on base soon ended.
The Oilmen plated two in the third, poured on four in the fifth and added one more in the sixth on their way to the win.
“The desire to win was there, so hopefully it carries over for the next two weeks,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “However the standings shake out, we want to go into the postseason with that type of approach.”
Perhaps the most encouraging storyline of the night was Brandon Murray (South Carolina / Hobart, Ind.), who found his groove after wobbly showings in each of his first two Oilmen appearances. Murray did allow five hits and three walks, but kept the Vikings scoreless over five innings.
“He made a couple of adjustments,” Enright said. “Instead of missing in and out, he was missing up and down, which is what you want instead of balls being all over the place. He’s getting his direction more to the plate, going forward with everything.”
Murray, a 2014 MLB draftee, was making his third start as a member of the Oilmen. He lowered his ERA from 8.75 to 6.02 with the appearance, while earning the win to move to 1-1.
“I felt a lot better,” Murray said. “I wanted to go out there and try to get ahead of hitters. I want to have a rhythm and have control of the game. The last two outings, there were a few innings where I lost control of what I was trying to do. I was a little bit more comfortable out there, mixing off-speed pitches. I controlled the pace of the game.”
Jordan Young (0-2) was hit with the loss for the Vikings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and seven walks in 4 2/3 innings.
After seeing the mound only once over the previous 20 days, Hunter Clark showed no signs of rust. The Eastern Illinois southpaw worked two scoreless frames out of the Oilmen bullpen.
Kyle Van Kalker (Trinity Christian / Dyer, Ind.) delivered a key pinch-hit single in the fifth inning that plated two runs to break the game open. It was Van Kalker’s first hit and RBIs as a member of the Oilmen. He batted in place of Joe Bryant (South Suburban / Munster, Ind.), who went 0-for-2 in his Oilmen debut.
Leadoff man Brian Seymour had three walks and every other spot in the Oilmen order had at least one hit.
The Vikings (10-21) are now 1 ½ behind the fourth-place tie between the Admirals and Lakers. Joliet lost both games of a doubleheader against DuPage County on Tuesday.
The Oilmen (20-13) host Lexington (20-14) on Tuesday at 7:10 in an important game in the MCL playoff race. The Oilmen are 4 ½ behind the first-place Hounds.