06/07/2016 10:22 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 7, 2016 – The resiliency of the Northwest Indiana Oilmen was tested when the Michigan City Lakers scored five runs in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s home opener at Oil City Stadium.
The Oilmen passed the test with flying colors, responding with five of their own in the bottom of the inning to regain the lead in an eventual 8-6 victory.
The Oilmen held a 3-1 edge going to the fifth, before the game went haywire during a 40-minute frame that saw each team score five.
“It being still pretty early in the game, our thought was to put the fire out, stop the bleeding and get back on offense,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “We wanted to keep it manageable. We got out of it in OK position and we had the chance to put some more runs on the board.”
The Oilmen (3-6) did just that in the bottom of the inning, a five-run rally that was highlighted by Jake Perreira (Indianapolis / Grant Park, Ill.) launching one off the left-field scoreboard for a two-run single.
Northwest Indiana had claimed the early lead over the Lakers (2-4) when Tyler Sroczynski (Trinity Christian / Dyer, Ind.) jumpstarted the office with a walk and a stolen base and came around to score a first-inning run on a Chase Dawson (Valparaiso / Chesterton, Ind.) flair down the left-field line that went for two bases.
Sroczynski reached base three times, while Dawson collected three hits in his Oilmen debut.
“My first impression is he’s fast,” Enright said of Dawson. “He’s very polished as a freshman. Good approach, doesn’t really get fooled by pitches at the plate and doesn’t open it up so the pitcher has a bigger zone to pitch in. He makes really good contact.”
Christian Howell (Minnesota State Mankato / Aurora, Ill.) allowed six runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three over 4 1/3 innings. He was spelled by Eric Frontzak (Alma College / Naperville, Ill.), who threw 1 2/3 and was not charged with a run, but did allow two inherited runs to cross the dish. Frontzak (1-0) picked up the win in relief.
“I think Eric did pretty well,” Enright said. “A couple pitches early on in that inning got too much of the plate. If he can keep his fastball away from the middle of the plate, that’s going to help him.”
Hunter Clark (Eastern Illinois / Granger, Ind.) needed only eight pitches to cruise through the seventh, before Braden Niksich (Illinois State / Hobart, Ind.) worked a scoreless eighth in his Oilmen debut.
James Whiteman (Triton College / Lakeville, Ind.) hit a batter and walked one, but recorded back-to-back strikeouts to nail down his first save of the season in dramatic fashion.
“I was worried because he hasn’t been out there in a while, so I knew he might not be as sharp as he had been,” Enright said. “He’s throwing what he wants and he’s sequencing pitches so hitters are off balance.”
Lakers starter Bobby Humphreys (0-1) was hit with the defeat, allowing eight runs (three earned) on 10 hits in five innings.
Winning during the home opener and against the Lakers – who the Oilmen lost the season series against last year – made the day extra significant for NWI.
“The Lakers are always a really good team, and they beat us a whole lot last year because they have a bunch of guys that can hit and they have really good starting pitching,” Enright said. “Any time we can get one from them, it’s a good day for us.”
The Oilmen and Lakers will hook up again on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. It’s Ladies Night at the ballpark with preferred tickets available for the discounted price of $5. Tickets can be purchased by visiting NWIOilmen.com.