07/14/2018 10:09 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 13, 2018 – With Amir Wright (St. Leo / Griffith, Ind.) standing 90 feet away in the bottom of the ninth, Jake Plastiak (Wichita State / Tinley Park, Ill.) knocked a one-out single to right field, breaking the tie and sending the Oilmen to a 4-3 victory over the DuPage County Hounds.
With their third walk-off win in eight days, the Oilmen continue to prove the amount of collective resilience they have in close games, a trait that will come in handy as playoff time nears.
“Grit,” said acting manager Matt Vitulli. “That’s what it comes down to. I talked to the guys a little earlier about our attitudes when we’re down in games. That game right there just shows it. We have a lot of grit in this dugout. As you can see, those three walk-off wins are perfect evidence of grit.”
In an important game before the All-Star break, some Oilmen fans may have been left wondering why Christian Howell (Trinity Christian / Aurora, Ill.) was removed after three innings with just one run allowed on 41 pitches.
“Howell is pitching in the All-Star game tomorrow so we wanted to limit him a bit. He hit his three inning mark. Other than that, I would have liked to keep him in. I always love watching Howell pitch,” Vitulli said.
Howell’s early exit made the late-game heroics of Connor Spear (UW Whitewater / Highland, Ind.) possible. After Nick Wolf (McHenry County / Valparaiso, Ind.) was touched for two runs over two complete innings of work, Spear entered in the sixth with the Oilmen trailing 3-2.
From that point on, the right-hander blanked the Hounds. He went the final four innings scoreless without even allowing a hit, picking up the victory on the mound. In his last three outings, all coming within the last four days, Spear has allowed one earned run on two hits over seven and one-third innings. His ability to come in out of the bullpen is sure to be valuable to the Oilmen down the stretch.
“It’s great to have Spear come out and deliver with runners on or with a clean slate. The ability to get out there and execute was huge especially today,” Vitulli said.
The Oilmen are slated to see the Hounds five times over the club’s last nine MCL games. It seems to be a different feel whenever these two teams square off no matter the importance of the game.
“When we play the Hounds it’s almost like a playoff atmosphere. Defense is what’s going to be the factor in the games coming up against them,” Vitulli said.
Apart from Plastiak’s walk-off single, the highlight of the night for the Oilmen offensively was a Jackson Dvorak (Missouri St. Louis / New Lenox, Ill.) 11-pitch at bat that resulted in a 2 RBI single to get the scoring started in the second.
The next MCL game for the Oilmen comes on Monday as Northwest Indiana will visit DuPage County for a 5:00 p.m. CT first pitch in Lemont. However, plenty of Oilmen standouts will be in action this Saturday night during the annual MCL All-Star Game at Oil City Stadium. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. CT. If you cannot make it out to the game, it will be airing on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey and former Oilman Andrew Lowe on the call.