MICHIGAN CITY | With a five-run lead before he even stepped on the mound, Hanover Central grad Andy Wellwerts could afford a couple mistakes.
Wellwerts cruised along for three innings, allowing just one hit. He then walked four batters in the fourth inning and allowed one run to score, but the Northwest Indiana Oilmen pounded out 11 hits and rolled to a 9-1 win over the Michigan City Lakers in a five-inning game shortened by an approaching thunderstorm.
“I don't really know what it was,” Wellwerts said of losing his command. “My arm feels fine, my legs feel great. I just couldn't find the strike zone.”
The Oilmen (12-4) sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning, collecting six hits. Andrean grad Kenny Mahala and Lowell grad Craig Austgen both laced RBI singles in the offensive flurry, yet Wellwerts insisted he didn't feel at ease.
“It's harder for me to get locked in with the lead,” said Wellwerts, who just finished his sophomore season at Chicago State. “I don't have the pressure making me succeed.”
Oilmen coach Justin Huisman noticed a different Wellwerts in the fourth inning compared to the first three.
“He was his usual self in the first three innings,” Huisman said. “In the fourth, it just got away from him a little bit. I think he was overthrowing a little bit. He figured it out and only gave up one run. At the end of the day, it was a good outing other than the walks.”
Nick Bartolone drove in four runs, Mahala reached base three times and went 2-for-2 and Austgen went 3-for-3 with two RBIs.
“He swung the bat well today,” Huisman said of Austgen. “He had a great day. Those first couple innings, we really took it to them and got ahead and tried to put the game away early.”
John Cristo drove in the lone run for the Lakers with his fourth inning bases-loaded walk.