WHITING | As the ace of the Oilmen pitching staff last summer, it's obvious the team is expecting big things from Crown Point grad Josh Negele again this season.
Used mainly in relief as a pitcher at Indiana State this past season, Negele said he was still feeling tight from the college season, and the normally reliable lefty didn't have his best pitches in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Lexington Snipes in the home opener.
“There was a lot of fatigue today,” said Negele, who led the Midwest Collegiate League with a 1.10 ERA last summer and went 4-0. “I knew I could do more, but my body couldn't take it. It was really frustrating knowing you couldn't do what you can.”
Oilmen coach Justin Huisman recognized that Negele was a little tender in his start.
“Usually when that happens, your mechanics kind of change a little bit,” Huisman said. “He was kind of falling off and leaving the ball up in the zone more than he usually does.
"Usually, his command is a lot better than that. He wasn't quite himself, but he'll take a little time off and see what happens.”
Negele ended his outing with four innings pitched, seven hits and three earned runs before being pulled in favor of Joe Cochran, who pitched three scoreless innings.
Gavit grad Aveeno Nasiloski followed Cochran with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
“(Cochran) threw fantastic,” Huisman said. “He did exactly what we needed him to do, put zeros up and give us a chance to come back. That was Nasiloski's first inning so far, but he did a great job.”
The Oilmen (1-2, 0-1 MCL) couldn't get much offense going off Snipes starter Jacob Hendren, who struck out nine and scattered six hits over seven innings.
It wasn't until the eighth inning when the Oilmen scored two runs off reliever Nick Barnhill that a legitimate threat was mounted.
Andrean grad Kenny Mahala pinch-hit in the ninth and nearly jacked a two-run home run, but it sailed harmlessly into the left fielder's glove on the warning track to end the game.
“It had the makings for it,” Huisman said about a possible comeback win. “Their starter threw an incredible game and we were hoping to get him out of there sooner than that and see if we can get to their bullpen.
"We did, just not enough.”