06/17/2023 2:33 PM
Whiting, IN- The Panthers have struggled against the Oilmen this season. They lost 11-2, 7-6, and just lost 5-0 Friday. Hunter Niksch was the starting pitcher in that 11-2 loss back at Highland. Niksch came in and dominated against an Oilmen lineup that was towards the top of the Northern League in almost every offensive category.
“My mindset was really just to throw strikes. I pitched against them a couple weeks ago and it did not go too hot. I knew how the lineup was coming in as well as some guys to look out for.”
Niksch acknowledged that he struggled in his first start. Niksch credited his ability to make adjustments in his quality start. He also emphasized how major a start like this is against a premier lineup for his confidence going forward.
“I feel so much more comfortable, honestly. They are the second best team in the league right now. They are a very good team and knowing I can compete with that level of players makes me feel really good.”
Niksch got the no-decision as he went five scoreless innings. He allowed five hits and three walks. Niksch struck out five.
Unfortunately for Niksch, the offense struggled immensely. These struggles came the day after the Panthers only were able to score two runs in the 3-2 11 inning loss to the Miracle. Oilmen pitcher Tyler Laux was unhittable as he went six innings allowing only one hit. Laux struck out five and produced nine ground balls. Laux also got the no-decision.
The Panthers went to Dominic Chillman in the bottom of the sixth inning. Chillman had a clean inning, but the Oilmen offense came back to life in the seventh.
Chillman allowed a single and two walks to load the bases and now it was Kyle Basile’s turn to attempt to get out of a jam. A dropped foul ball opened the floodgates for the Oilmen as Ryan Little made the Panthers pay as he had an RBI-single to get the first run of the game in
Kevin Denty followed with a hit by pitch with the bases loaded. Basile got a strikeout, but then allowed a walk to make it 3-0 then a double from Brendon O’Conner to make it 5-0.
That was all the Oilmen needed as they went on to win comfortably with a final score of 5-0. Niekrasz got the win as he went two innings and did not allow a baserunner. Oilmen tied a franchise record with their eighth win in a row.