06/02/2017 9:05 PM -
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen continued their road trip Friday with a trip to Joliet to face the Admirals. They also continued their winning ways, with a combination of excellent pitching and continuous hitting propelling NWI to an easy 10-2 win and a 4-2 start to the 2017 season.
The Oilmen bats were working early, but it was an Admiral mistake which helped Northwest Indiana get on the board. After Joliet second baseman Jack Lombardi let a two-out pop-up from Zack Jones fall, Hunter Thorn singled into center and scored both Jones and Amir Wright. Another hit from Dashon Moore later in the inning scored Thorn, and the Oilmen had a 3-0 lead before starter Matt Garbacz got onto the mound.
Garbacz, who made his first appearance as an Oilman in his start Friday, wouldn’t need much help from his offense. He pitched six scoreless innings in his debut and allowed just three hits while striking out six and walking two. Her threw over two-thirds of his pitches for strikes, and the Admirals couldn’t find an answer for him all day.
“He just threw tons of strikes,” Coach Adam Enright said after the game. “He’s always got good stuff. His breaking ball is just a big swing and a miss pitch; sharp and late. He was getting in the zone with quality pitcher’s pitches early in the count and got tons of early outs; tons of at-bats where it was two or three pitches. That’s what this league’s all about. You want to conserve pitching and put yourself in the best position to have a good week. You need guys who can go out there and pitch efficiently… It’s hard to manage a staff in this league, and that helps us out a lot, not only in a game like this where he gets us through six innings but also for the rest of the week with a double-header [Saturday] and a game Sunday to look forward to.”
While Garbacz was making quick work of the Admiral lineup, the Oilmen kept adding to their lead. Northwest Indiana put another run on in the fourth after Tyler Sroczynski tripled and Amir Wright drove him home with a single. In the sixth, the Oilmen tagged on three more with RBI singles by Alec Olund and Hunter Thorn and a sacrifice fly from Dashon Moore. The Oilmen led 7-0 when Garbacz handed the ball over to reliever Brian Jestice.
One of the brightest spots in the win was Tyler Sroczynski, who tallied four hits after going 0-5 Thursday against Bloomington. Coach Enright said this could be a turning point for the reigning MCL MVP after a slow start.
“He’s a big confidence guy, so when he starts to feel good and have positive thoughts in his head he starts rolling he starts feeling it,” Enright said. “A couple successful at-bats or a couple good hits off the bat and he starts putting it together. He’s not one that you can talk to a lot and try to tinker with his swing. He just has to figure it out as he goes, and then once he gets it, it usually stays for a long stretch.”
Sroczysnki scored three of the Oilmen’s 10 runs in the game, adding to the NWI career runs scored record which he already holds.
The Admirals didn’t get a base runner on against Brian Jestice in the seventh or eighth innings. Joliet did score a pair in the ninth, but both were unearned and came long after the game was out of reach. It was a convincing win for NWI, but it didn’t come without room for improvement. The Oilmen committed five errors in the field in a sloppy game all around (the Admirals committed four errors of their own). Despite the numbers in the box score, Adam Enright wasn’t concerned about the mishaps in the field.
“It was just late in the game,” Enright said. “We dropped a pop-up and dropped a fly ball down the line… We’re playing pretty smart, heads-up baseball and running the bases really well. We’re in the right spots for cut-offs and a few double-cuts on automatic doubles without even practicing it. “Our guys just know baseball and know where they’re supposed to be. That’s what I’m happy with; we don’t have to do a lot. We’re going to make physical errors, but I don’t think there’s much to critique.”
Garbacz got the win for his first of the season, improving to 1-0. Jacob Hennessy took the loss after giving up four runs in four innings, though only one was earned. He falls to 0-1.
The Oilmen have a double-header tomorrow in Chicago Heights against the Southland Vikings, which will be the first two games between the teams this season.
To see the box score from today's game, click on "Download Attachment".