Whiting, Ind. – Aug. 7, 2022 – The game wasn’t impactful in terms of seeding, but was in terms of momentum on Saturday night at Oil City Stadium.
For the second consecutive evening, the Oilmen rallied late to beat the Crestwood Panthers, this time scoring three in the seventh and three in the eighth to record a 9-7 victory. The Panthers had jumped out to a 5-0 lead through four innings before NWI got on the board with three in the fifth.
“The feel in the dugout was much different after the 15-5 loss on Thursday,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “We have gotten to the point where late in games when it’s close, we do a good job pitching to keep us within striking distance, and there is the utmost confidence in the dugout that we’re going to score a handful of runs late in the game.”
The Oilmen had learned earlier in the day that they locked up the No. 3 seed in the Northern League Playoffs thanks to Joliet’s loss to the Chicago American Giants.
“It gave us an opportunity to not tax our pitching today,” Enright said. “Being able to plan out the pitching as far as what guys needed work instead of extending anybody past that, and giving Jack Zebig a day to just DH instead of playing the field was nice.”
Justin Schassburger struck out 10 over 6 2/3 innings to set the Panthers’ single-season strikeout record with 66. He finished just two shy of Aaron Hauge’s league record that has stood since 2011. While the Panthers used power pitching, the Oilmen pitched to contact, as four hurlers combined for just three strikeouts. Anthony Rogers was the winning pitcher after working the final two frames. Jack Zebig paced the Oilmen with three hits.
The Oilmen finished the regular season at 25-22, while the Panthers saw their season come to an end with a 17-26 record. Now, Northwest Indiana’s attention shifts to a single-elimination semifinal game on Monday night at 7:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium with the winner advancing to the Northern League Championship Series.
“Typically, you want a large sample size to determine who is really the better team in baseball,” Enright said. “In one game, anything could happen. If one starter for either team comes out and doesn’t quite have it, that’s their season. We’ll do our best to pull all the strings to win one game and see where that gets us.”