06/09/2016 3:59 PM
Southland Vikings (4-5)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (4-6)
June 9, 2016 • 7:20 p.m. • Whiting, Ind.
Radio: NWIOilmen.com (Online Only)
NWI’s Clay Keltner (Cornerstone / Highland, Ind.) vs. Michael Shereyk (SIU Edwardsville / Flossmoor, Ill.)
The Oilmen carry a three-game winning streak into Thursday’s game. They also hold a seven-game regular season home winning streak dating back to last year. The Oilmen enjoyed their most productive inning of the season on Wednesday, jumping out to an early lead with seven in the first in an eventual 9-5 victory over the Lakers. The Oilmen have 38 hits over the last three games after totaling just 43 hits over the first seven games. On Wednesday, Chris Baker became the first player in Oilmen history to hit a grand slam on the first pitch of an Oil City Stadium debut. Baker’s grand slam snapped a 1-for-10 slump. The Oilmen have batted around in an inning at least once each of the last three games.
Inside the Oilmen
Clay Keltner will make his first Oil City Stadium start on Thursday. Keltner, who is making his third start of the year, holds a 3.72 ERA in 9 2/3 innings. He was hit with the defeat in his most recent outing, allowing three runs (two earned) in 2 2/3 innings at Bloomington on June 2. Keltner has 10 strikeouts on the season, one of three Oilmen pitchers in double figures along with Reggie Johnson (11) and Christian Howell (10). Tommy Szczasny went 3-for-3 and reached base in all four plate appearances in his Oilmen debut on Wednesday. Cory Krolikowski remains the team leader in hits with eight and stolen bases with four. Jake Perreira’s four doubles make him the NWI leader in extra-base hits. Tyler Sroczynski is hitting .333 (6-for-18) so far this year and leads the team in runs scored with seven. Blake Cleveland’s first inning single on Wednesday snapped an 0-for-6 stretch and marked his first hit in an Oilmen uniform. After starting the season with four straight hitless games, Alex Nisle has hits in four of his last five.
Inside the Vikings
The Vikings are coming off a doubleheader split with Joliet on Wednesday. They prevailed 8-5 in Game 1 before absorbing a 7-0 loss in Game 2. The Vikings are off to a strong start offensively, as they hold a .297 team batting average. Nick Wheeler leads the team with nine RBIs and owns a .343 average. He and Tyler Crussen (.414 average) are tied for the team lead in hits with 12. The Vikings are 15-for-20 in stolen bases this year. Their team ERA sits at 6.34. Southland is in its first season under the direction of former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher John Ely, who appeared in 25 games and made 19 starts over three seasons in the big leagues from 2010-2012.
About the Matchup
The first meeting of the year between the Oilmen and Vikings was suspended with the Oilmen leading 12-1 in the fifth inning at Hap Bruno Field. The game is expected to be resumed at a later date this season. The Oilmen hold a 22-18 lead in the all-time series with the Vikings.
MLB Draft Watch
The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft begins with the first two rounds on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. Central Time. Former Southland Viking Corey Ray is expected to be selected in the Top 10 overall. Ray, considered the draft’s top power-speed threat, hit .319 with 15 homers and 44 steals at Louisville this season. Several other former Midwest Collegiate League players are projected to be taken in the draft, which continues with rounds 3-10 on Friday and 10-40 on Saturday.