Height: 5' 10" Weight: 175 lbs
College Experience: UW Whitewater
Hometown: Highland, Ind.
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen have announced the addition of a pitcher who has thrown an MCL championship-clinching complete game.
No, this is not duplicate information after the team unveiled the return of 2016 MCL Championship Game 3 winner Jordan Petty earlier this month. The Oilmen have bolstered their pitching staff with the addition of another arm who has found success on the league’s biggest stage in former Southland Viking Connor Spear.
Spear went the distance in Game 3 of the 2017 MCL Championship, yielding only four hits in a complete game shutout to pitch Southland past Bloomington 6-0. The Vikings had finished the 2016 season eight games under .500 and got off to an 8-12 start in 2017 before going on a tear that culminated with an unlikely run to the league title.
“That is one of my favorite baseball memories because I was able to continue to build on my baseball career post-high school by finding success in a college-level environment,” Spear said. “I knew we could do it all along. We had a bunch of hard-nosed baseball players who loved being out there every day. That’s why we won a championship. You can have all the talent in the world, but as soon as you start getting negative, that’s when you lose it. Our guys kept a positive attitude every day. It was really fun being part of that team last summer.”
The chance to play closer to home attracted the Highland native and Mount Carmel High School graduate to join the Oilmen this year. He is finishing his first year at Wisconsin Whitewater, a highly successful Division III program that went 33-8 overall and 20-4 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this season, winning two games in the NCAA Regionals. He becomes the second Oilmen player to attend Wisconsin Whitewater, joining former right-handed reliever Andrew Lowe.
“Last summer I had the chance to play at Oil City Stadium when I was with the Vikings, and it provides a great atmosphere,” Spear said. “A lot of people come to the games; I really like the way the Oilmen operate. I loved playing under the lights – playing night games is a great experience in baseball. Being under the lights and pitching? I just can’t get enough of that.”
Spear is also excited to play for Adam Enright, who is back for his fourth year as the Oilmen manager and seventh on the coaching staff.
“I’ve heard that Enright does a great job with having a good structure for the pitchers,” he said. “He’ll let you know ahead of time when you’re pitching, what situation you’ll be in and how many innings he’ll want you to go. That’s really helpful because you can mentally prepare yourself for that part of the game. That’s also what led me to want to play with the Oilmen.”
Although he’ll be first-time teammates with many of the Oilmen, Spear is confident that he’ll be able to continue his style of leaning upon the players in back of him.
“I share the ball with the people behind me,” he said. “I trust my defense no matter what. I’m not going to be the pitcher who tries to put the game on his back. I know I have seven guys behind me who will make plays, so I just share the ball. I pitch to contact and find some barrels so I don’t get my pitch count too high. I rely on my movement.”
Off the field, Spear is a finance and marketing major with an interest in entrepreneurship. He ran a small lawn business throughout high school and one day wants to invest his money and work for himself.