NWI Oilmen's Leiff Clarkson slides safely back to first base to avoid the tagout of Michigan City's Max Kerr in the first inning during their game held at Oil City Stadium in Whiting on Sunday July 7, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 9, 2013 12:47PM
WHITING — They’ve done it all summer.
So when Tyler Baar returned to the dugout in the ninth inning and asked his teammates to ‘pick him up,’ the Oilmen responded in their 1-0 exhibition victory over the Michigan City Lakers.
Baar had just been picked off of second base after starting the bottom of the ninth inning with a double in a 0-0 tie.
“He came back to dugout and I could hear him saying, ‘Somebody pick me up.’ That’s what happens when you have guys on the team that believe in each other,” said Oilmen (16-7, 10-6 MCL) leadoff man Rashawn Tillman. “That’s what we did (in the ninth inning).”
Ty Hogan was the next hitter after Baar’s double, and he singled to again put the game-winning run on base.
“That put the pressure right back on them,” said Oilmen manager Justin Huisman. “If he doesn’t do that, then the inning might have been a lot different than it was.”
Hogan stole second and then moved to third base while Craig Austgen reached first base on a fielding error. Tillman was up next, stepping to the plate for his fourth at-bat on a less-than-memorable day.
“I was struggling the whole game, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts,” said Tillman, who admitted to having a tough first half of the season from the batter’s box. “But my teammates had faith in me; everybody told me that it was going to be my time.”
Tillman launched a fly ball to left field, deep enough for Hogan to tag and score from third base to win the game.
“That felt great,” Tillman said of his game-winning RBI. “The ball was middle-away and I drove it. I feel like everything is finally coming together.”
The 1-0 win was made possible thanks to a shutout-by-committee effort from five different Oilmen pitchers. The first two were the aces of the Oilmen staff this season: Lake Central grad Jimmy McNamara and Michael Steensen.
McNamara got the start, pitching three innings and allowing just one hit and one walk to go with two strikeouts, lowering his ERA from 0.39 to 0.36. Steensen, who entered the game with a 1.42 ERA, also went three innings and he allowed just two hits and one walk.
From there, Huisman again turned to the trio of arms from schools in Hammond. Bishop Noll’s Danny Pobereyko pitched a scoreless seventh and Gavit’s Aveeno Nasiloski followed suit in the eighth inning. Matt Pobereyko picked up the win by holding Michigan City scoreless in the ninth.