07/27/2016 10:34 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 27, 2016 – The Oilmen successfully discovered a recipe for overcoming errors on Wednesday night against the Lakers.
“The phrase of the summer has been hit in more than you let in,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said.
A season-long theme of wobbly defense continued as the Oilmen made five errors, but another season-long trend of offensive success kept going in a big way as the Oilmen banged out 17 runs on their way to a 16-9 victory over the Lakers.
The Oilmen used an eight-run sixth inning to break the game wide open.
“We didn’t play good defense, and that’s not something we’re overlooking just because we won,” Enright said. “There are still things to shore up before we get into next week. If you put up 16 runs, you give yourself some more breathing room.”
Stefano Belmonte (Florida Gulf Coast / Munster, Ind.) led the way with four hits, Chris Baker (South Suburban College / South Holland, Ill.) reached base four times and Zack Forney (Eastern Illinois / Cary, Ill.) enjoyed a three-hit day.
Belmonte ripped three doubles, while Baker smoked a triple to drive in two in the fifth. The game went back and forth early with the Lakers leading on two separate occasions, but the Oilmen took the lead for good after a third-inning run snapped a 4-4 stalemate.
Jake Perreira’s two-run double accounted for the first two runs of the marathon sixth inning, during which the Oilmen had 11 straight batters reach base. Eight of the nine men in the order scored in that inning, and the only Oilmen player who didn’t score (Zack Forney) was left stranded at third.
Christian Howell (Minnesota State Mankato /Aurora, Ill.) hurled seven innings and allowed five runs (one earned) on nine hits to corral the win and improve to 5-1.
Lakers starter Justin Stowe was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on 10 hits in four innings to drop to 1-5. However, Oilmen broke it open against reliever Anthony Spangler, who yielded 11 runs (10 earned) on five hits in 1 1/3 innings.
James Whiteman (Triton College / Lakeville, Ind.) twirled a clean eighth for the Oilmen, but Luke Jaksich (St. Joseph’s College / St. John, Ind.) was touched for four runs on three hits, three walks and a hit batter in the ninth.
The win allows the Oilmen to (26-20) to take over second place from the Admirals, who lost to the Vikings on Wednesday. The Hounds beat Bloomington, so DuPage remains two games in front of the Oilmen for the top spot in the Midwest Collegiate League.
The Oilmen control their own destiny with five games remaining in the regular season. If the Oilmen win the next five games, they are guaranteed to finish first and win the MCL regular season title for the first time in franchise history. However, if the Oilmen lose to DuPage County on Thursday night, the Oilmen would be eliminated from contention for the league’s top spot.
“Guys are getting a little anxious for the postseason,” Enright said. “I don’t think the standings are putting too much extra pressure on them. We know we have postseason baseball ahead of us, no matter if we come in first or third. People remember the postseason more than the regular season. It’s better to be a Yankee than a Brave.”
The Lakers (17-26) slip back to the basement of the MCL with the defeat. Southland’s win and Bloomington’s loss on Wednesday heats up the race for the final playoff spot as the Bobcats hold a one-game lead over the Vikings entering a doubleheader between the two teams on Thursday.
It’s Thirsty Thursday with $2 Miller Lite Drafts available at the stadium concession. In addition, it’s Fan Appreciation Night with all fans receiving a raffle ticket. Prizes will be raffled off throughout the night. The first pitch between for the final home game of the regular season is slated for 7:20 as the Oilmen welcome the