06/15/2018 10:30 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 15, 2018 – The chance to play closer to home and the beauty of Oil City Stadium attracted Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.) to the Northwest Indiana Oilmen in 2018 after he played for the MCL’s Bloomington Bobcats in 2017.
The Oilmen were sure glad he made that decision on Friday night and the Bobcats sure wished they could have him back, as Northwest Indiana topped Bloomington 11-5 behind four hits and a home run by Figus, who has hits in all 10 games he’s played with the Oilmen.
“He’s a really good athlete and he’s really smart,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “That’s a dangerous combination. When he starts being exposed to new information and getting a fresh perspective on how he goes about his at-bats, swing and approach, this happens. The big plus for him changing teams in the summer is that he gets to play somewhere else where he’s going to get different ideas than what he’s been exposed to previously. He can take the best of everything he’s been taught. He can take the ideas that he likes and make that into his own blend of hitting concepts.”
When Figus launched a solo homer over the left-field brick wall in the bottom of the first, it was only the start of the Oilmen (6-8) power surge. Nate Montgomery (Tusculum / Geneva, Ill.) made it back-to-back jacks a moment later with a mammoth blow half way up the protecting netting over the scoreboard. Montgomery, who leads the league with three home runs, finished the game with two hits and reached base three times.
“His timing has gotten much better,” Enright said. “He knows where he’s trying to make contact now. He’s farther out than he was early in the summer. He was really rushing to get swings off. If you’re late and rushing to get your swing to the ball, it’s hard to get a lot of bat speed going by the time you get to the ball. It’s also hard to make adjustments. Now, he’s working much earlier and much slower, so everything he does at the plate has calmed down a ton. He can really see pitches come in and make contact under control.”
Hunter Thorn (Purdue Northwest / Portage, Ind.) had a break-out day at the dish, drilling a solo homer to lead off the second inning, setting the stage for a three-hit day. The Oilmen had four home runs in the first three innings, as Cory Krolikowski (Minnesota Duluth / Bartlett, Ill.) belted his first home run in an Oilmen uniform over the right-field fence in the third.
“It makes things a lot easier when you’re hitting home runs,” Enright said. “It’s hard to mess up base running and offensive strategy when all you’ve got to do is touch them all. When we swing early in the count and we’re putting swings on baseballs and execute that plan, that’s what we get. Hopefully now that we are a little bit more comfortable getting things rolling a little bit, you see that more consistently.”
The Oilmen sprinted out to a 6-1 lead through two innings and added a four spot in the fifth on their way to the lopsided victory. NWI enjoyed 11 runs on 15 hits.
Oilmen starter Chad Patrick (Purdue Northwest / Hebron, Ind.) picked up the win to improve to 1-0 with four scoreless frames in which he allowed one run (none earned) on one hit while racking up six strikeouts and issuing five walks. Joe Prestamer was the pitcher of record on the other side after giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits in just 1 1/3 innings. The loss was his first decision of the season, while the Bobcats dropped to 5-9 and into fifth in the MCL standings.
After a rough outing his last time out, Pedro Rodriguez (Tusculum / Kissimmee, Fla.) was sharp over two scoreless innings, striking out four of the seven men he faced and permitting just one hit.
“Tonight he went out there with an intent to strike people out,” Enright said. “I told him, ‘You’ve got two innings, and we’re looking for six strikeouts.’ That first inning, even on the fastballs that he missed with up and in, you could see he was trying to challenge hitters to hit his best pitch. He wasn’t pitching away from contact. He was pitching to blow hitters away. He was much more aggressive in his mentality today.”
The Oilmen will attempt to knock off the DuPage County Hounds (12-1) on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. It’s Super Hero Night featuring characters from Magic, Music and More. Tickets and more information can be found on NWIOilmen.com.
To view the box score, click here.