06/08/2016 9:48 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 8, 2016 – Oilmen outfielder Chris Baker chose the right way to make a favorable first impression on the home fans.
Baker (University of Illinois Chicago / South Holland, Ill.) crushed the first pitch he saw at Oil City Stadium this season over the right-field wall for a grand slam, the highlight of Wednesday’s 9-5 victory over the Lakers.
The Baker blow came in the midst of a seven-run inning that staked the Oilmen (4-6) out to an early lead over the Lakers (2-5). The grand slam was much needed for Baker, who entered the game at 1-for-10 on the season.
“It was more about being relaxed,” Baker said. “I’ve been having some bad at-bats and not getting the results I wanted. I tried a different stance, and it ended up working out for me. I needed a hit to get the guy in, and I had been struggling, so I just wanted to clear my mind and go.”
In addition to his struggles on the recent Oilmen road swing, Baker scuffled during Wednesday’s batting practice.
“That was his first good swing all day,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said of the home run. “He was upset about his BP. Every round he took, you could hear him talking to himself and trying to correct it. His problem was he was putting top spin on the ball and rolling over everything. It was cool to see him make that adjustment.”
The action-packed first inning also featured back-to-back plays where strikeouts turned into runs. Brad Bohlen struck out for the first out of the inning, but the pitch was in the dirt, so Tyler Sroczynski broke for the plate on the catcher’s throw to first. After the play worked successfully, the Oilmen used it again a moment later, when Chase Dawson scampered home as Josh Fewell fanned.
“We thought with the combination of the arm strength of the catcher and third baseman and the speed we had at third, we could beat the play,” Enright said. “That’s not something you can do all the time, but it’s something we saw coming into the game and going into that two-strike situation.”
The early support helped the cause of incoming freshman Luke Jaksich (Saint Joseph’s College / St. John, Ind.), who yielded four runs on seven hits over five innings while striking out eight and walking three in his college-level debut. Jaksich, who just graduated from Andrean High School, received the win.
After the rocky first, Lakers starter Dan Snyder settled in, and did not allow any additional damage over the next five innings. Snyder (1-2) was charged with seven earned runs on eight hits and six walks in six innings to take the loss.
The Lakers slowly climbed back into the game with one in the third, three in the fifth and one in the sixth, but the Oilmen broke through with Bohlen’s two-run single in the bottom of the eighth to boost the lead to four.
Tommy Szczasny (Northern Illinois / Tinley Park, Ill.) was impressive in his college-level and Oilmen debut, racking up three hits and reaching base in all four plate appearances.
The Oilmen will look to extend their winning streak to four on Thursday night at 7:20 p.m. against the Southland Vikings. It’s the first Thirsty Thursday at the ballpark with draft beers available at the stadium concession stand for the discounted price of $2. Tickets are on sale now on NWIOilmen.com