Oilmen Spoil the Home Opener and Defeat the Panthers 11-2

05/31/2023 10:56 PM -

Highland IN- Highland High School had its first taste of the Northern League Wednesday night as the Panthers hosted the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. However, it was all Oilmen in tonight’s matchup as we figured it was only a matter of time until they got it going after getting swept by the Lake County Corndogs. 

Highland High School proved to be quite a hitter friendly ballpark as the Oilmen launched two home runs to propel them to victory.  Kevin Denty drilled a homer in the second inning to add two more to the Oilmen one run lead. Shortly after, Logan Anderson crushed a solo-shot to make it 6-0. 

Deandre Gilmore gave the starting duty to rising sophomore Hunter Niksch. Niksch allowed six runs, but only four of them earned, while giving up eight hits, walking three and striking out four in four innings of work. 

Despite a bit of a shaky line, Gilmore still has faith in Niksch and believes that he was just a couple mistakes away from a very good outing. This outing also did not deter Gilmore’s opinion of him being a premier starter moving forward rather than a bullpen piece.

“He’ll definitely start. I thought his outing was pretty good. He made two mistakes that cost him a bit, but other than that he was pretty good. We could have made plays behind him as well.”

Steve Washilewski was superb on the mound for the Oilmen as the Panthers just could not catch up to his velocity. He struck out seven in three innings of work and only gave up one single to Darryl Lloyd III

Antonio Saldana and Brandon Laux went a combined three innings with only one Panther reaching via a walk. These two pitchers displayed first class velocity as well. Head Coach Deandre Gilmore gave his guys the benefit of the doubt and said how this high velocity is something these players are not entirely used to. 

“We have a young team so most of these guys are getting out of high school. They might see this kind of velocity maybe every three weeks. They’ll learn from it.”

Anthony Mangano relieved Niksch and the Oilmen put the game more out of reach by tacking on four more runs in Mangano’s two innings of work. 

It looked as if the 10-run rule was going to be implemented, but Alonzo Raigosa drove in Jonny Crowel to keep the game going. 

Kevin Bushnell got all of one in the eighth to give the Panthers their only other run and their fourth and final hit of the game. Brendan Meyers pitched the last three innings and only allowed one run. 

The Panthers will travel to Elkhart to face the 1-0, newly-formed Miracle Thursday at 6 p.m. CT.