07/03/2017 8:41 AM -
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen came back from a loss Saturday to take a rain-shortened win Sunday over the Crestwood Panthers. The Oilmen scored early and often in an offensive outburst.
The game started as a back-and-forth battle. Crestwood scored a pair off Oilmen starter Christian Howell in the first. A wild pitch brought home Travis Schoonover, and Mike Martin hit a sacrifice fly later in the same at-bat which brought home Sean Grant. The Oilmen tied the game in the bottom of the second after Carter Naughton and Sam Geraci drove in Hunter Thorn and Noah Davis.
Crestwood took the lead back in the top of the third. The Panthers’ Mike Martin walked with the bases loaded and Brady West scored on another wild pitch from Howell to go up 4-2. This time, NWI responded right away. The Oilmen scored three in the bottom half of the inning. First, Hunter Thorn singled and brought home Amir Wright and Alec Olund. Two batters later, Carter Naughton doubled to score Thorn. The Oilmen had their first lead of the day. Howell wouldn’t give up another run, but allowed four runs in five innings of work. He walked six and struck out only three in a continued struggle to find the strike zone, but showed signs of improvement in the later innings.
“[Howell’s] last inning was pretty good,” Oilmen coach Adam Enright said. “The last half of the fourth inning and the whole fifth inning were pretty good. He’s starting to get a feel for a breaking ball and gets ahead of hitters…For him, it’s just going to be grinding through those innings that he needs to figure things out. I’m glad we could get him five just because he needs to be out there. We can’t just pull the plug on him when he starts to struggle.”
The Oilmen gave up their lead in the sixth when the Panthers scored off a Will Kulcher error, but the NWI offense exploded in the late innings. Northwest Indiana scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead back, 8-5. In the seventh, Tyler Sroczynski took the Oilmen home run lead with a three-run shot over the Oil City Stadium scoreboard. Northwest Indiana scored two more runs in that inning and blew the game open.
Up 13-5, Crestwood scored one run in the top of the eighth before rain (and a few minutes of hail) started pouring at Oil City Stadium. The game was called as it headed to the bottom of the eighth, and the Oilmen took a shortened 13-6 win. Hunter Thorn led the Oilmen offense with four hits and four RBIs. Tyler Sroczynski and Carter Naughton each added three and two RBIs, respectively.
“Offensively was the bright spot today,” Enright said. “I was happy with Carter Naughton getting a couple of hits, he had a really big RBI double. It was good to see; he’s been struggling lately. Hunter Thorn had really good at-bats. Tyler Sroczynski hit another home run. Extra-base hits were plentiful and that’s always what sparks big innings. It’s a very encouraging sign going into the home stretch of the season.”
The Oilmen are now 18-12 on the season. Tyler Laux took the win for NWI, while Crestwood’s Josh Hojniki was given the loss. The Oilmen have two days off before Wednesday’s game against the DuPage County Hounds.