Whiting, Ind. – Aug. 5, 2022 – In baseball, a day can make all the difference.
Just 24 hours after a lopsided loss, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen pulled off one of the most significant victories of the season by rallying for six runs in the bottom of the eight to beat the Crestwood Panthers by a score of 8-4 on Friday night at Oil City Stadium.
“We made the comeback happen by our own doing,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “We strung some hits together and had a couple extra-base hits. That’s what we’ve been looking for all year. The walkoffs and comebacks are nice, but for us to have to take it from the other team that played really well was huge. In other games, we’ve gotten a few breaks. Hats off to our guys for making a comeback on a night where our opponent played very well.”
Battling through a minor injury, Chris Baker showed no signs of being limited during his eighth-inning at-bat, leading off the prosperous frame with a triple to spark the rally.
“That’s Chris Baker,” Enright said. “He’s always going to have the best at-bats in the biggest spots. He’s always going to get better when it’s meaningful and impactful in a game. We’ve come to expect that from him.”
Another key blow in that big inning came off the bat of Mark Ross, who ripped a two-run double.
Before each team had big innings late, the game was a classic pitchers’ duel between Northwest Indiana’s Tyler Preissing and Crestwood’s Charlie Faoro. Preissing had allowed just one run (none earned) over the first six innings and had the Oilmen clinging to a 2-1 lead, but the final pitch he threw was a go-ahead, two-run homer by Q Noble in the top of the seventh. Preissing finished with 12 strikeouts.
“He has put it all together,” Enright said. “His last three outings have been phenomenal. I apologized to him for even letting him go out to start the seventh inning at 88 pitches, but he struck out the last two hitters in the sixth and looked really good, so we were going to let him go 10-15 more pitches. Hopefully we get back to him in the postseason where we can get him the ball in the championship series at some point. I’m excited to see how much he’s improved over the summer.”
Both starting pitchers reached double-figure strikeout totals as Faoro produced 11 for the Panthers, allowing two runs on just three hits over his seven frames in an eventual no decision.
“He was phenomenal,” Enright said. “His fastball was just missing barrels above swings, which was really tough on us. We had three hits through and those ended up being timely. He was really impressive.”
Nick Heiden eventually slammed the door with a scoreless ninth inning in a non-save situation as the Oilmen owned a four-run lead. Prior to Heiden continuing a busy week of action on the mound, the Oilmen survived the middle part of the game despite turning to a pair of position players on the bump. Jack Zebig was the winning pitcher after working a scoreless eighth, and David Marshall allowed one run in the seventh.
“They’ve been chomping at the bit for that opportunity all year,” Enright said. “At the beginning of the week, I texted them both and said, ‘The day is coming.’”
The victory, which came in front of a large audience on Elvis Night, helped NWI (24-22) put itself in a position to clinch the No. 3 seed for the Northern League Playoffs with a win on Saturday night. Furthermore, the Oilmen clinched their 11th consecutive winning season with Friday’s triumph.
Saturday’s regular-season finale against the Panthers will begin at 6:10 p.m. on Fan Appreciation Night. It is also Pirate and Princess Night. Tickets are available on NWIOilmen.com. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Leo Staudacher will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network.