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Not-so-grand opening for defending champ Oilmen

Whiting's Nick Saldutti tosses ball Jack Czezewski for out #2 top 7th Oil City Stadium Wednesday June 4 2013. |

Whiting's Nick Saldutti tosses the ball to Jack Czezewski for out #2 in the top of the 7th at Oil City Stadium on Wednesday June 4, 2013. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 7, 2013 1:00PM



WHITING — For a while, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen looked ready to recapture some of their 2012 magic, as the defending Midwest Collegiate League champions scored three late runs to cut a four-run deficit to one by the end of the eighth inning.

After a Lexington insurance run in the ninth, Andrean product Kenny Mahala came in to pinch hit for the Oilmen with two out and a runner on in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Mahala sent a fly ball to deep left field, but Lexington’s Eric Fight made the catch just in front of the fence, ending the game in a 5-3 victory for Lexington in the season opener for the Oilmen.

“With the direction of the wind I didn’t think (it was going out) right away,” Oilmen manager Justin Huisman said. “But it’s a short porch out there so I was hoping it would squeak over.”

The Snipes (1-1) are new to the MCL for the 2013 season, and they captured their first league win while riding the arm of starting pitcher Jacob Hendren. The southpaw allowed one run on five hits and one walk while racking up nine strikeouts.

“Their starter threw an incredible game, I was hoping we could get him out of there sooner than that,” Huisman said. “I wanted to see their bullpen, which we did, but not quite soon enough.”

Crown Point native Josh Negele made the start for the Oilmen, coming off a 2012 campaign in which the lefty posted a 4-0 record with an league-leading 1.10 ERA. But with an arm that, as Negele described, still had some tightness from a pair of recent appearances with Indiana State, Negele lasted four innings in this game, surrendering four runs on seven hits, one walk and three hit batters.

“It’s frustrating knowing that I can do more but my body just couldn’t take it,” said Negele.

Added Huisman: “He was a little tender today and usually when that happens, your mechanics change a bit. He was falling off of the mound and leaving pitches up in the zone more than he usually does. His command is typically a lot better than that.”

Gavit product Aveeno Nasiloski pitched a scoreless eighth inning out of the Oilmen bullpen and was relieved by Bishop Noll graduate Matt Pobereyko, who gave up one run in his inning of work.

Lake Central graduate and 2012 Post-Tribune Player of the Year Jimmy McNamara will take the mound for the Oilmen tonight for a 7:10 start against the Southland Vikings.



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