06/04/2016 2:04 AM
Northwest Indiana Oilmen (1-6)
at Southland Vikings (3-4)
June 4, 2016 • 1 p.m. • Chicago Heights, Ill.
Radio: NWIOilmen.com (12:40 pregame)
Game 1 - NWI’s Sam Geraci (Parkland / Illinois Springfield / Steger, Ill.) vs. Southland’s Colin Bauer
The Oilmen have already lost the season series with the Bloomington Bobcats, following four losses in Bloomington this past week. The Oilmen held a 4-0 lead on Friday night, but Bloomington eventually rallied for a 6-4 victory. The Bobcats have a 0.25 team ERA (1 ER in 36 innings) against the Oilmen. Sam Geraci will make his first pitching start in an Oilmen uniform on Saturday. He was the team’s primary shortstop last season and batted. 292 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 32 Midwest Collegiate League games. The Illinois Lutheran High School graduate just finished his sophomore year at Parkland, where he was used only as a pitcher this season. Geraci has committed to Division-II Illinois Springfield for his junior season. Geraci made one pitching appearance last summer, working the final 3 1/3 innings of a 9-2 win over Michigan City and allowing one run on three hits to earn the save. This spring at Parkland, Geraci yielded two runs (one earned) on five hits in eight innings, good for a 1.13 ERA.
Inside the Oilmen
The Oilmen have lost six of their first seven games and plummeted to five below .500 for the first time in franchise history. Before this season, the Oilmen had never been more than one game below the break-even precipice. However, the Oilmen play 22 consecutive home games beginning on Tuesday night, a stretch the figures to be prosperous for NWI. The Oilmen have two former Southland Vikings on their roster in Stefano Belmonte and Chase Fieldhouse. Both were members of the 2014 MCL Championship squad.
Inside the Vikings
The Vikings missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, finishing the regular season 12-29, in sixth place in the MCL. Southland hopes to restore its tradition of success after winning back-to-back league titles in 2013 and 2014. Former Major League Baseball player John Ely takes over as the manager of the Southland Vikings this season, replacing Tony Sanchez. Ely, who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the third round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft, made 39 appearances (29 starts) over three big league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers before Tommy John surgery cut his playing career short. The Vikings are coming off a 7-4 win over the Lakers on Friday.
About the Matchup
A classic Midwest Collegiate League matchup renews on Saturday as the Oilmen and Vikings hook up for the first time in 2016. The two teams will meet six times in the month of June, with the next five coming at Oil City Stadium. They will see a lot of each other this year as Saturday marks the first of 13 meetings. The Oilmen hold a 22-18 lead in the all-time series with Southland after winning eight of the nine showdowns last season.
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