07/15/2016 10:24 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 15, 2016 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen have won 22 games this season, but none have been more significant than Thursday’s victory over DuPage County.
The Oilmen prevailed 6-1 to take over first place in the Midwest Collegiate League for the first time since July 7, 2015.
“This allows us to put our destiny in our own hands for the rest of the regular season,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “We’re not going to have to sit back and hope that someone loses a bunch of games. We’re not going to need any help.”
In addition, the victory allowed the Oilmen to extend their winning streak to seven games, matching the longest in franchise history.
“On the road, it was a combination of getting a few days off and getting a change of scenery,” Enright said. “This week, it’s been having fresh guys again. We’ve had off days, so we have guys that aren’t burned out from playing a bunch of games in a row. We can play five or six days in a row and be good, but when you start to play a whole bunch more in a row, that’s when guys run out of gas.”
The Oilmen struck first when Zack Forney (Eastern Illinois / Cary, Ill.) jacked a solo homer to right-field in the second inning, his first long ball of the summer.
“That’s one of the most impressive home runs of the season,” Enright said. “It was to the opposite field and wasn’t hit really high. That ball was hit pretty well the other way on a line; that’s pretty impressive. That home run was about more than just the lead, it was about a change of attitude and guys relaxing in the dugout.”
DuPage County tied the game as a ground ball to first by Joey Roberson scored Tyler Tesmond in the third. The score remained even until the sixth, when Chase Dawson roped a two-out run-scoring triple, followed by an RBI double by Marshawn Taylor and a wild pitch to make it 4-1.
“During this winning streak, we’ve gotten a lot of two-out extra base hits,” Enright said. “We’re not bleeding a ground ball through the infield with two outs; we’re putting a charge into balls in pressure situations. That shows a sign of aggression and a sign that we’re going after pitchers and the game in general instead of just hoping it goes our way.”
The Oilmen tacked on two more in the eighth as Stefano Belmonte singled to drive in a pair.
Not to be overshadowed by the red-hot Oilmen offense, starting pitcher Jordan Petty (Purdue Northwest / Highland, Ind.) followed his 10-strikeout game from last week by fanning seven in his second start of the summer. He picked up the win to improve to 2-0 while allowing one run on five hits over six innings.
DuPage threatened in the eighth after Hunter Clark issued three walks to load the bases, but Braden Niksich came on and induced a ground ball to end the inning and protect a three-run Oilmen lead.
Niksich (Illinois State / Hobart, Ind.) also got the final three outs to nail down his second save. Clark (Eastern Illinois / Granger, Ind.) worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings and still has not allowed an earned run in 20 innings this summer.
Chase Lowman took the loss for DuPage after allowing two runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He drops to 5-3 on the season. Mike Roberson had three of DuPage’s five hits.
Dawson (Valparaiso / Chesterton, Ind.), Belmonte (Florida Gulf Coast / Munster, Ind.) and Bo Fletcher (Alcorn State / Chicago, Ill.) had two hits apiece.
The Hounds (20-14) travel to Joliet on Saturday at 1 p.m., while the Oilmen (22-15) welcome the Vikings on Saturday at 7:20.
A win on Saturday would give the Oilmen their first-ever eight-game winning streak. It’s also Country Saturday with Frank Paul Band set to perform a pregame concert beginning at 6:15. Tickets are available now on NWIOilmen.com.