08/02/2017 6:44 PM -
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen lost Game 1 of their best-of-three series with the Bloomington Bobcats Tuesday, and Wednesday went on the road with their backs against the wall. The Oilmen needed a win in Game 2 of the MCL semifinal to keep their season alive, and took a 7-0 win at Illinois Wesleyan University to bring the series back to Oil City Stadium.
In the early innings, Game 2 had an eerily similar feel to Game 1. Both starters blew threw the other team’s lineup, and the game stayed scoreless into the middle innings. In the first four innings, NWI’s Joe Graziano and Bloomington’s Nick Brune combined for six strikeouts and gave up just four hits.
The Oilmen struck first in the top of the fifth. With two outs and runners on first and second, Northwest Indiana’s Amir Wright hit a double which scored both Alex Nisle and Tyler Sroczynski. The Oilmen added another run in the seventh. Chase Dawson singled with two outs, and brought himself around the bases before the Oilmen had a chance to drive him in on their own. Dawson stole second, and the throw from Bobcats’ catcher Mitch Fairfield went into center field. Dawson took third base, but center fielder Andy Shadid wasn’t quick to get the ball back into the infield. Dawson bolted for home and barely beat a throw in to score. He came in from first without anyone hitting a ball.
On the mound, Graziano dealt out seven shutout innings in his start. On just 85 pitches, he gave up five hits and struck out three Bobcats without walking any. Thanks to his work on the mound, the Oilmen took a three-run lead into the late innings.
Northwest Indiana broke the game open in the eighth. Bobcats’ reliever Aidan Cossio faced just two batters before he was taken out of the game in favor of Sammy Gordon. Gordon walked two more Oilmen, and NWI scored a run and had the bases loaded with nobody out. Alec Olund singled to score another run, and later in the inning Alex Nisle brought in two more with a single of his own. The Oilmen blew the game open with four in the top of the eighth and led 7-0.
“We know that we put ourselves in a good position to win yesterday,” Manager Adam Enright said. “Our goal today was just to be the same team we were yesterday. Other than a couple miscues defensively, we didn’t really make mistakes… We could have come up with a couple hits and scored a couple runs in the middle of the game yesterday, but we have a good feeling of who we are and who we should be, so it wasn’t something where we had a back-against–the-wall mentality.”
The Oilmen put Bo Hofstra and Christian Howell on the mound for the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, and both pitchers threw scoreless frames. Howell sent the Bobcats down 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Oilmen took a shutout win.
“The only thing that we could want other than what we got is two wins,” Enright said. “It’s very satisfying that we were able to pitch as well as we have the last 18 innings, and hopefully tomorrow Blake Marks can continue what he’s done for us.”
The Oilmen play the Bobcats in a win-or-go-home Game 3 Thursday night at Oil City Stadium at 7:10 p.m. The winner will move on to the MCL Championship Series. It would be the second straight year the Oilmen went to the final weekend of the MCL season after winning the title last season. Tickets for Thursday’s game are available online at NWIOilmen.com.