Whiting, Ind. – July 1, 2022 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen found a way on Thursday night at Oil City Stadium.
It may not have been how manager Adam Enright drew it up, but the Oilmen rallied to beat the Chicago American Giants 8-7 in walk-off fashion, capping a three-run ninth after the Oilmen trailed 7-4 in the eighth and 7-5 in the ninth. This marked the team’s fourth walk-off win of the season and second against the Giants.
“In most of our walk-offs, we’ve done enough to get ourselves within striking distance,” Enright said. “Scoring a run in the eighth was big, and the most important thing we did in the eighth was get back to the top of the order. I told our guys that if we could get five hitters to the plate in the eighth and get back to our top part of the order that’s going pretty well, we’ve got a shot to score enough runs to either continue the game or win.”
The Oilmen continued a trend of posting a crooked number in the first inning, something they’ve done in six of their last seven games. They started the contest with three straight hits, including a two-run single by Jason Hodges (John A. Logan / Park Forest, Ill.).
“Obviously, that helps us have a little bit more aggressiveness on the bases,” Enright said. “It allows us to not be in protection mode with our outs because we are ahead. Usually that leads to more runs because it leads to us being able to put enough pressure to where we can steal some bases and force some errors and continue to lean on the opponents until they fall apart, but their starter settled in really well after that first inning.”
The Giants (4-18) got a run back in the top of the second and took their first lead of the game with two in the third. The Oilmen tied it at three on a two-out hit by Kyle Czarnecki (Kankakee CC / Minooka, Ill.) in the bottom of the third, then the Giants regained the lead with two in the top of the sixth. Colin Horneman (Lincoln Trail / St. John, Ind.) had a two-out, run-scoring double in the last of the sixth before the Giants expanded the lead with single tallies in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Giants stole seven bases on a night where both teams were aggressive on the base paths.
“All of the pitchers who went out today are guys who are a little bit slower to home plate,” Enright said. “That’s fine as long as you’re varying hold times and head looks and when we go to the plate so those baserunners aren’t so comfortable stealing the base before we even deliver the ball. On the other side of that, we were very locked in on making pitches, and if I had to pick one or the other, I’m picking being locked in on making pitches.”
A two-run ground-rule double by Dom Curcio (Aurora / Plainfield, Ill.) tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, a ball where the right field could not make the catch before it bounced over the fence. That was the second misplayed ball of the inning by the Giant defense, as a pop fly by Hodges with one out and nobody on base fell between three Chicago infielders and sparked the eventual game-winning rally. Czarnecki dashed home to score the winning run on a ball that got by the catcher and made its way to the backstop.
“Walk-off wins keep the excitement needle in the green,” Enright said. “It keeps the guys excited to show up. When guys show up the next day, they’re still talking about wins like this. It’s nice to get the adrenaline pumping.”
The Oilmen (15-12) will host Military Appreciation Night on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. Tickets are available now on NWIOilmen.com. For those who cannot attend, Brandon Vickrey and Andrew Mild will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network.