07/27/2017 6:44 AM -
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen squandered a chance to take first place Tuesday night with a loss at home to the DuPage County Hounds. Still a game back of first in the loss column, the Oilmen bounced back in its final home game of the season against the Crestwood Panthers. It was the third time NWI had met Crestwood in four games, and the Oilmen took another big win and improved to 31-15.
For the third consecutive game against Crestwood, Northwest Indiana scored first. Panthers’ starter Jack Carberry allowed the first two Oilmen of the game to reach in the bottom of the first, and Amir Wright drove in the first run with a double. Later in the inning, Wright scored on a two-out single from Danny Torres. After being shut down by the Hounds’ pitching staff last night, the Oilmen offense quickly put the one-hit day in the rear view.
“It’s a good indication that we can clear it and go to the next game, which is something that we definitely need in the playoffs,” Coach Adam Enright said. “We lose a game and go the distance in the series, you can’t hold on to that anxiety and that pressure… It’s something that I expect from this group, it’s a very mature, even-keeled group that doesn’t ride the roller coaster of emotion. When things are going really good or going really bad, they stay right in the middle. They come every day and try to do the same thing to get ready for the game.”
Joe Graziano got the start on the mound for the Oilmen and turned in another exceptional performance. He didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning when mark Martin finally broke through with a single. He struck out eight Crestwood hitters and walked just two. In five innings, Graziano allowed just one hit and three base runners. The Panthers only put a runner in scoring position on him once.
The Oilmen bats came to life again in the middle innings, scoring ten runs from the fifth to seventh. Danny Torres tallied a game-high four RBIs in that time, and the Oilmen blew the doors off the game with a 12-0 lead. NWI’s Brian Jestice and Rory Gard combined for four relief innings of one-hit baseball to close the win out. The Panthers had just two hits on the day. After the game, Coach Enright praised his team’s ability to stay mentally tough after a big loss the day before.
“Other than talent and the ability to make plays, it’s the most important thing – to be able to play the same way you do in mid-June as you do in the first week of August when it really matters,” Enright said. “It just depends on how well we execute and how well we pitch and if it goes our way in a close game.”
The Oilmen’s Graziano took the win in the game, and the Panthers’ Carberry was given the loss.
The Oilmen are on the road for the rest of the regular season; Northwest Indiana takes on the Southland Vikings in Chicago Heights Thursday at 5 p.m.