06/14/2018 1:49 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 14, 2018 – After being shutout on Wednesday evening at Southland, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen offense let it be known immediately that Thursday would be a different story.
The Oilmen scored four in the first inning and received quality pitching throughout the day on their way to an 8-4 victory over visiting Joliet. The victory sent hundreds of enthusiastic youngsters home happy on Kids Day at Oil City Stadium.
“The first inning sets the pace for the overall day offensively,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “When guys see other guys get hits early, they feel like it’s going to be a day where we make hard contact, and there’s no pressing going on. The difference between yesterday and today is that the swings that we put on balls early in counts are the balls that we hit hard.”
Two batters into the game, the Oilmen owned a 2-0 lead as Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.) touched all four bases on a drive to left center as his extra-base knock was extended by an error. The Oilmen continued to hit balls hard for the duration of the first inning as Jackson Dvorak (Missouri St. Louis / New Lenox, Ill.) doubled to drive in a run, then Alex Voss (Butler / South Bend, Ind.) got in on the act with a run-scoring single.
That early outburst came in support of starting pitcher Max Franklin (Heartland / Chicago Heights, Ill.), who yielded three earned runs on six hits while walking one and striking out five in six innings to gain the win and up his record to 1-1. Only issuing one walk was positive for Franklin, who had walked 11 in 10 innings entering Thursday’s start.
“Pitch count and free passes have always been his Achilles’ heel,” Enright said. “He was still in deeper counts, but was able to command his fastball enough to not give up free passes. He doesn’t give up many hits, so when he doesn’t walk people it’s hard to score on him. For a team that has hit as well as Joliet to only score three in six innings is a good day.”
Two doubles helped Joliet plate a pair in the fourth, taking a bite out of an Oilmen lead that had reached 5-0 after Brenden Butler (Upper Iowa / South Bend, Ind.) had singled home a run in the third. After the Generals (6-6) pushed across a tally in the sixth, the Oilmen got one more in the bottom of the sixth when Dvorak walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch, then added two in the seventh when a string of three straight hits featured doubles by Voss and Patrick Hayes (Chicago, Ill.).
George Sherman (Dominican College / Skokie, Ill.) continued to thrive out of the Oilmen bullpen, delivered his third straight outing without allowing an earned run. This time he went three strong frames to nail down the first save by an Oilmen pitcher this season. Joliet mustered up just one hit and one walk against him, while he worked around two Oilmen errors, though one unearned tally did cross the dish.
“He was outstanding,” Enright said. “He did exactly what we thought we were getting out of him. He throws lots of strikes and keeps the defense involved. He keeps the game moving quickly, which is great when you’re winning. He didn’t let the other team stretch the game out and slow it down.”
Eight of the nine Oilmen in the lineup had hits, led by multi-hit days by Butler, Voss and Brandon Petkoff (Robert Morris / Monee, Ill.)
The Oilmen will remain home to host the Bloomington Bobcats on Friday at 7:10 p.m. It’s College Night as all college students will receive discounted tickets by showing their student ID at the ticket window. In addition, it’s Miller Lite Pint Night as $2 Miller Lite Pints will be available at the stadium concession stand.