06/10/2017 10:17 PM -
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen were down to their last strike Saturday night in a hard-fought battle with the Bloomington Bobcats, but magic struck again for the Region's team. The Oilmen came back to tie the game and force extra innings, and a home run in the 10th gave NWI its second walk-off win in as many nights, 9-8 over Bloomington.
For the first time at Oil City Stadium in 2017, the Oilmen scored first. In the third, Amir Wright led off with a single. After a pair of walks put Alec Olund and Hunter Thorn on base, Bloomington starter Jacbo Houghton hit Chris Baker with the bases loaded for a free run. Carter Naughton drove home Olund and Thorn with a single in the next at-bat, and Northwest Indiana took a 3-0 lead.
That lead would stay in tact until the sixth. Oilmen starter Joe Graziano -- making his first appearance in an NWI unifrom -- was outsatnding on the mound. He gave up just two hits and struck out five in four innings, but had to be pulled after just 66 pitches. Matt Garbacz came in for the Oilmen in relief, and the Bobcats' offense exploded. After scoring one in the fifth, Bloomington sent 10 hitters to the plate in the sixth inning and scored seven runs on six hits. Justin Diaz hit a home run to cap off the offensive tear and make it 8-3 Bloomington.
The Oilmen had four at-bats to put together five runs and stay alive in the game, and NWI started chipping away at the lead right away. Alec Olund drove in Noah Davis in the bottom of the sixth to make it 8-4, and three more runs in the seventh brought Northwest Indiana back within striking distance quickly. The Oilmen also got help on the mound from Bo Hofstra. After Garbacz redeemed himself with a scoreless seventh, Hofstra pitched came in and kept the Bobcats off the scoreboard as well.
The Oilmen went into the ninth down a run. Noah Davis was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and Will Kulcher bunted him over to second. Amir Wright flew out, and Dashon Moore came up as the last hope for NWI. He fell down 0-2 early to put the Oilmen down to their last strike, but then drove a double into left-center field which scored Davis and tied the game. Moore was thrown out trying for a triple on the play, but for the second straight day free baseball was given to the fans at Oil City Stadium.
The Bobcats put runners on first and second with only one out in the top of the 10th, but Bo Hofstra struck out the next two batters to end any hope of a go-ahead score. In the bottom half, Ben Nisle ended the game quickly. Nisle -- brother of fellow Oilmen Alex Nisle -- played in his first game with the team last night and was 0-5 going into the at-bat. None of that mattered, as he crushed a home run over the scoreboard at Oil City Stadium to win NWI the game. It was the first time in Oilmen history a player's first hit with the team came in a walk-off home run.
The Oilmen have won two games in a row and are now 7-6 on the season. The Bobcats fall to 3-6. Bo Hofstra picked up the win for NWI, while Addison Fugitt took the loss.
Northwest Indiana is back on the field tomorrow at 1 pm to face the first place DuPage County Hounds. The Hounds are 10-1 on the season.
To see the box score from today's game, click on "Download Attachment".