06/20/2018 7:45 PM -
Joliet, Ill. – June 20, 2018 – With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth inning on Wednesday at Wayne L. King Junior Field, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen had the right man at the plate as they attempted to extend their two-run lead.
Reliably and predictably, catcher Nate Montgomery (Tusculum / Geneva, Ill.) delivered a bases-clearing double, extending the Oilmen lead to 9-4 in an eventual 13-9 win over the Joliet Generals.
Montgomery also made a key play in the bottom of the eighth inning with the glove, fielding an off-line relay throw and making an impressive tag to cut down a runner trying to score for the final out of the inning. It’s been contributions like those that have made Montgomery one of Northwest Indiana’s most valuable assets all season long.
“He’s one of those older guys that we need, especially because we have so many younger players,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “He’s a role model and trend setter as far as how guys should be aspiring to go about their business every day. If you get into good counts or in those bases-loaded situations, your goal is to do the damage he does. A lot of our younger guys don’t have the ability and the physical makeup yet to drive balls in the gap to the fence or hit home runs. He’s a really good guys for the younger players that we have to look up to and say, ‘OK, I’ve got to move toward where Nate is physically and mentally.’”
Montgomery doubled twice on Wednesday and drove in four, while Jake Plastiak (Wichita State / Tinley Park, Ill.), Eric Yachinich (Minnesota Duluth / Ashland, Wis.) and Hunter Thorn (Purdue Northwest / Portage, Ind.) had three hits apiece. Thorn also drove in four runs, continuing to turn his offensive productivity around after a slow start to the season.
“Thorn was battling a wrist injury early in the summer, and it’s progressed quite well in the healing process,” Enright said. “He had a fracture in his hamate bone, and there’s nothing you can do for that except let it heal. Early in the year, you could tell his bat speed and swing was not what it has been the last two years. He’s back to 90 percent health and back to his usual self.”
The Oilmen scored in the fourth inning for the first run of the game, then Brandon Hickey (Robert Morris / Monee, Ill.) was touched for four two-out runs in the fourth after he had retired the first 11 batters of the game. An Oilmen error led to three of those runs being unearned.
The Oilmen scored three in the fifth to tie the game with Thorn delivering a line drive to right that plated a pair and made it 4-4. Chad Patrick (Purdue Northwest / Hebron, Ind.) turned in three scoreless innings and fanned five while walking one and allowing just one hit to pick up the win and advance his record to 2-0.
“The challenge this week is that we only have five games, so we’re making sure that we get everybody innings that we need and piecing it together to win games,” Enright said. “It was really important for us to get all four of those guys in today, and we were able to do that. Winning with Brandon Hickey and Chad Patrick is important because if you lose with those two guys, you’re down a game and two of your better arms for the rest of the week. I was glad that the game worked out in a way where all of our pitchers who needed to get innings got in the game.”
The Oilmen (10-8) extended their winning streak to six with a nine-run top of the eighth inning, snapping a 4-4 tie. Alex Herbst (0-1) was charged with seven of the runs that crossed in the inning and took the loss for the Generals (7-10).
The Oilmen will go for their seventh straight win on Thursday at O’Neil Park as they clash with the Bloomington Bobcats in a game that begins at 6 p.m. The game will air on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network with Brandon Vickrey and Dan Harty on the call.