07/02/2018 11:58 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 2, 2018 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen were riding high after tying the game with a five-run third, but one swing of the bat swung the momentum back into the visitors’ dugout on Monday night at Oil City Stadium.
Matt Collins ripped a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the fourth against Oilmen starting pitcher Connor Spear (UW Whitewater / Highland, Ind.), putting the Hounds in front 9-5, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish on their way to a 13-5 win.
Spear was saddled with the loss, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits while striking out six and walking three. The grand slam was the only extra-base hit he allowed.
“Of the first 10 hits, I think they had two hard-hit balls,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “A lot of balls found holes up the middle and between the shortstop and third baseman. He got lots of ground balls, and he was pounding the zone down. If those ground balls are hit in spots where infielders can get to them, it’s a completely different ballgame. The hits and runs he gave up were not indicative of how well he executed pitches.”
The Hounds racked up 18 hits for the game, but 16 were singles. The Oilmen leveled the score with the big frame against starting pitcher Brett Taucher, who allowed five runs on two hits, six walks and two hit batters in 2 1/3 innings. Travis Pelton succeeded Taucher and turned in the performance of the night on the mound, scattering six hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win. After tying the game with a five-run third, the Oilmen bats were quiet for the remainder of the evening.
“We missed a lot of good pitches to hit,” Enright said. “With the strike zone being what it was, our rate of success in two-strike counts wasn’t going to be very good, because we had a lot of zone to cover with two strikes. Putting ourselves in those two-strike counts by hitting a lot of foul balls on hittable pitches is what kept us from being able to score.”
Brandon Petkoff (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) and Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan / Frankfort, Ill.) each reached base four times via two hits and two walks, serving as a bright spots for the Oilmen offense.
“When Brandon strides and gets ready to swing, lately he’s been getting in a less athletic position as far as his posture,” Enright said. “We tried to get him get a little lower to the ground to be in a little bit more athletic of a position. He’s been really unlucky lately, and he needed to get his confidence back and feel good about going to the plate.”
Sawyer Allen (Hillsdale College / Fair Oaks, Ind.) allowed four runs on eight hits over three innings of relief and issued no walks. The Oilmen turned to a position player on the mound in the ninth as Tom Kelley (Miami of Ohio / Orland Park, Ill.) hurled a scoreless inning for the second time this season, both against DuPage County.
The Oilmen (16-11) fall to 3 ½ behind the first-place Hounds (19-7) with the defeat, which snapped a three-game winning streak. NWI will be back in action on Tuesday with a doubleheader against the Bloomington Bobcats beginning at 4 p.m. CT at O’Neal Park. The game can be seen on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey and Dan Harty on the call.