By Noel Fary
Northern League baseball is back for the 2023 season, with the Lake County Corn Dogs defeating the NWI Oilmen 13-9 in the season opener for both teams Thursday at Legacy Fields in Crown Point.
The Oilmen traveled to Crown Point to take on the Corn Dogs in a rematch of last year’s championship series.
Check out the box score from the game.
Both teams feature a variety of new talent, but plenty of familiar faces. The Corn Dogs, the defending Northern League champs, saw 12 players return from their previous season, some of made a huge impact in the season opener.
Ryan Troxel, Corn Dogs ace from their 2022 season, started on the mound for Lake County on a brisk and windy night.
What started off as a showcase of Troxel’s ability to paint the strike zone quickly turned to an Oilmen offensive outburst. After an uncharacteristic start, Troxel finished the night giving up 6 earned runs.
Corn Dog’s coach Justin Huisman thinks this is just the start for Troxel and believes in the short memory approach to pitching.
“It’s still early,” Huisman said. “It’s good to know that even when it’s not working out for you on one side of the ball, you can rely on the other.”
Facing off against Steve Washilewski, Oilmen ace, the Corn Dogs used a selective approach along with timely aggression to score 13 total runs off 7 hits.
Lake County veteran Danny Puplava earned himself player of the game, going 2 for 3 with a hit-by-pitch and a walk to add on. Puplava’s ground rule double and timely single drove in 4 runs and gave the Corn Dogs live when the Oilmen looked hot.
New addition Adam Walters made a splash with a solo shot to right field that injected life into the crowd at Legacy Field.
Relievers Mark Tor and Jake Thometz finished the game for the Corn Dogs, putting up 3 straight scoreless innings, stopping the Oilmen in their tracks. Lake County appears capable of picking up where they left off from their 2022 championship season.
“It’s always great to start off a season undefeated,” Huisman said. “We’re ready to deliver for the fans and community this season.”
The Oilmen and Corn Dogs face again on Friday, May 26 in game two of their three-game season opening series. First pitch is 7 p.m.
Photo caption: Returning starter and 2022 Northern League Pitcher of the Year Ryan Troxell on the mound in the Corn Dogs’ season opener.