07/24/2015 7:05 PM -
Joliet, Ill. – July 24, 2015 – Friday’s game won’t be soon forgotten by Joliet pitcher Chris Hawks.
The Waubonsee Community College right-hander sent down 17 straight Oilmen to finish out a 10-0 Admirals victory on Friday at Wayne L. King Junior Field. Donovan Chandler’s leadoff walk in the first and Zack Jones’ second-inning single were the only Oilmen baserunners of the game.
“The difference between his off-speed and fastball were just enough to keep us off balance,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said of Hawks. “It was a good six to eight miles per hour difference, and they looked the same coming out of his hand. He got a lot of soft contact early in the count.”
Hawks pitched to contact, recording only one strikeout in the seven innings. He earned the win to move to 3-2.
The game was shortened as the 10-run rule was enforced after seven. The 10-run rule is rarely used in the Midwest Collegiate League, but Admirals manager Tom Barry and Enright agreed to use it during the meeting with the umpires prior to the game.
It was the third time in franchise history that the Oilmen have been shutout and the first time since July 23, 2013, a 1-0 defeat to the Zephyrs. All three times the Oilmen have been blanked have been seven-inning games, as the two prior shutouts were part of doubleheaders.
“The thing that’s hurting us in the offense,” Enright said. “We’ve got to get the offense rolling again. Hopefully we can catch the hitting bug. We’ve shown that we can hit, so I’m not going to hit the panic button. We’re hopeful that we can get it back.
Starting pitcher Jimmy Skiff was tagged for 10 runs (eight earned) on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. He was hit with the loss to drop to 4-2.
“Everything was up,” Enright said. “He was hitting his spots in and out and everything was belt high. When you’re pitching at a high level, if it’s at the belt, it’s going to be hit.”
Hunter Clark was the lone bright spot for the Oilmen, tossing 1 ½ scoreless innings of relief to improve his ERA to 2.25.
The Admirals did the bulk of the damage in two big innings – scoring four runs in the third and five more in the fifth. Nate Tholl’s two-run homer, Tyler Paulsen’s two-run double and Zach Thomas’ three-run two-bagger were the game’s big blows.
The Admirals (14-20) are attempting to nail down the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2011, when the team played under its prior name, the Rockford Foresters. They gained a game on the Lakers, who lost to the Hounds on Friday. The Vikings and Lakers are now tied for fifth, three games behind the Admirals.
The Oilmen (20-16) have clinched a spot in the postseason based on the results of other Midwest Collegiate League games this weekend. They are now 2 ½ games behind second-place Lexington and 6 ½ behind first-place DuPage County. The top four teams in the league begin postseason play on August 1.
The Oilmen visit Southland for a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.