06/24/2018 10:36 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 24, 2018 – A winning tradition that features two league championships, six straight playoff appearances and six consecutive winning seasons has allowed Northwest Indiana Oilmen teams of years past to set a high standard.
But the Northwest Indiana Oilmen keep finding ways to go where no Oilmen team has gone before – this time in the form of an unprecedented winning streak that reached eight with Sunday’s 9-3 victory over the Southland Vikings.
“Our pitching has been really good over the last two weeks,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “The thing that makes a winning streak happen is that the guys start to get comfortable with one another. They start to figure out how the summer goes and they also let their personality out a little bit. You get the uncomfortable beginning out of the way, then it becomes more loose and fun. Winning comes easy because you’ve got guys who enjoy playing baseball around each other.”
Over the last two weeks, it seems like any button Enright has pressed has worked. From staff days to piggybacked starting pitchers to position players on the mound, seemingly every move has panned out for the Oilmen. The latest was the choice of Cory Krolikowski (Minnesota Duluth / Bartlett, Ill.) in the leadoff spot on Sunday, as the left-handed outfielder delivered three hits and reached base four times.
Nate Montgomery (Tusculum / Geneva, Ill.) continued to do Nate Montgomery things as he doubled twice and racked up three hits while driving in three. His two-run two-bagger highlighted a five-run third for the Oilmen that expanded the lead from one to six.
The Vikings (11-5) did all of their damage in the top of the fifth inning, but the Oilmen (12-8) responded with three of their own in the bottom of the frame, including another RBI double by Montgomery.
Max Franklin (Heartland / Chicago Heights, Ill.) picked up the win by striking out seven over four scoreless innings. He allowed just one walk and two hits in a start highlighted by his final frame of work, when he struck out the side.
“His slider was really good in the third and fourth inning,” Enright said. “Once he started throwing that hard and in the zone, more north and south than across the zone, he was really effective. For him, it’s always about fastball command. When he’s at least even in counts all the way through, he’s tough to hit. The last couple innings, you saw him get ahead and be at least even in most of those, and he had greater success.”
The newest member of the Oilmen, Zaid Walker (Michigan State / Flossmoor, Ill.), had two hits, walked and drove in a run. He has started his Oilmen career with consecutive multi-hit outputs. For the second straight night, Enright compared Walker to Tyler Sroczynski. In the Oilmen world, that’s about the highest praise possible.
“He’s got athleticism,” Enright said. “He reminds me a lot of Tyler Sroczynski in that he can do a lot of everything. He stole a base early, he put pressure on the defense with two outs by stealing third, and they threw it into left field. He’s fast, he hits for power; he’s a threat for extra-bases and a threat to steal bases. He’s a very dynamic player.”
The Oilmen will go for nine straight wins on Tuesday night at 5 p.m. at Wayne L. King Junior Field as they take on the Joliet Generals. Dan Harty and Sam Oppenheim will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live.