07/19/2017 8:37 PM -
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – July 19, 2017 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen have been on a surge since the MCL All-Star break. NWI had won six of its seven games since playing the Serbian National Team at Oil City Stadium, and continued its hot streak with a win Wednesday against the Bloomington Bobcats at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Christian Howell got the start for the Oilmen, and early on it looked like it would be another struggle on the mound for the NWI pitcher whose ERA was over 12 coming into the game. The Bobcats’ Andy Shadid singled to start off the game, and after stealing second was later driven in by Addison Fugitt in the bottom of the first. Tyler Carpenter – the next batter for the Bobcats – got another hit to drive in Fugitt. Bloomington led 2-0 after one inning.
The Oilmen responded quickly, though. In the top of the third, Chris Baker hit his first home run of the season with a runner on to tie the game at two. Later, a ground out from Dashon Moore scored Danny Torres (who was on third) and gave Northwest Indiana its first lead.
Howell settled in on the mound. He gave up another run on the mound in the fourth that tied the game at three, but gave the Oilmen his best performance of the season by far. He found the strike zone with more consistency than in any appearance since coming back from mono. In five innings on the mound, Howell struck out four Bobcats while walking just one.
The Oilmen scored its go-ahead run in the top of the sixth. Jackson Dvorak singled to start the inning, and after a Jack Ciombor walk and Will Kulcher fielder’s choice, advanced to third. Chris Baker hit a deep sacrifice fly to center to bring home Dvorak, and the 4-3 lead would be all the Oilmen needed to lock up the win.
Joe Graziano took over on the mound for the Oilmen and shut down the Bobcats’ lineup. In his five innings of relief he gave up just one hit, striking out five and walking two. With Graziano on the mound, the Bobcats only put one runner in scoring position. The Oilmen won their seventh in eight games since the All-Star break, 4-3.
“The Bobcats are a very hot team, very dangerous,” Coach Adam Enright said after the game. “They’re just a tough win every time, so to come in here and get a win is huge. The cliché is it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and we’re playing about as well as we can at the right time – late in the season, when there’s three teams right in the mix to win the regular season. It’s very satisfying.”
Christian Howell took the win for the Oilmen, while Jacob Houghton was saddled with the loss.
The Oilmen are now just one game behind the DuPage County Hounds for first place in the MCL. With the win Wednesday, NWI takes a two-game lead over Bloomington for second place with just over a week to play in the Midwest Collegiate League regular season.
The Oilmen are back at home Thursday to take on the Joliet Admirals at 7:10 p.m.
“The one thing we can’t have happen is be so satisfied with these past four games that we overlook Joliet,” Enright said. “Our goal is just to win out the week and be able to sit back with our feet up on the table and let them duke it out.”