07/11/2020 9:08 AM
Southland Vikings (6-1)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (4-2)
July 11, 2020 • 6:10 p.m. • Whiting, Ind. • Oil City Stadium
Broadcast: Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Facebook Live)
After a one-run defeat on Friday night against Crestwood, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen will attempt to bounce back on Saturday evening as Southland comes to town. Both squads will be looking to rebound from upset losses, as the previously unbeaten Vikings fell by the 10-run rule to previously winless Joliet on a surprising Friday of a Midwest Collegiate League action.
Pitching Matchup – Northwest Indiana RHP Kyle Iwinski (Kankakee / Griffith, Ind.) vs. Southland RHP Jake Karaba (Lewis / Naperville, Ill.)
- The Oilmen incurred a rare defeat to Crestwood on Friday night, losing to the Panthers for just the second time in the last 24 meetings and the fourth time ever, snapping a six-game head-to-head winning streak.
- Northwest Indiana holds a 3-0 record in games decided by 10 or more runs so far this season, but have dropped two of the three contests decided by five runs or fewer.
- Friday’s loss to the Panthers marked the first one-run game of the season. It was the first one-run defeat for the Oilmen since falling 2-1 in the final game of the 2019 MCL Championship Series against Bloomington.
- The Oilmen and Vikings have engaged in a tight all-time series, with NWI owning a narrow 41-40 edge after dropping this season’s first meeting 9-4 on Wednesday.
- Kyle Iwinski will make his first start and second appearance on the mound this summer. He permitted just two hits over three scoreless innings on Monday against Joliet. He’ll be opposed by Jake Karaba, who has struck out 10 and allowed just two hits and no walks in 3 2/3 shutout innings so far this season.
- Oilmen infielder Tyler Nelson is hitting .524, which ranks second in the Midwest Collegiate League behind Jackson Dvorak, a former Oilmen now with DuPage County, at .556. Nelson’s seven RBIs are tied for second in the league with three others, but Southland’s Justin Rios leads the way by a wide margin with 15.
- Clay Thompson has four steals, tied with Mike Bolton (Minutemen) and Ben Rosengard (DuPage County) for the MCL lead.
- The Oilmen pitching staff has the best ERA in the league at 2.25. Every other squad is has an ERA over four.
- Joe Rotkis is the MCL leader in strikeouts with 12. The right-handed pitcher has allowed just two runs (one earned), one walk and four hits in his nine innings this summer.
- The 2020 Oilmen roster features representatives from numerous Division-I institutions including the following conferences: Big 10, American, Ohio Valley Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, Horizon League, Mid-American Conference, Summit League and the ACC.
- The Big Ten is well represented on this year’s roster, with players from five different conference members on the squad – Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa.
- This marks the Oilmen’s first season under the direction of Chris Cunningham, who is the fourth manager in team history. Cunningham is no stranger to the MCL, as the former professional ballplayer in the Tampa Bay Rays organization managed the Southland Vikings from 2011-2014. In his final two seasons, the Vikings won back-to-back MCL championships.
- Oilmen legend Matt Pobereyko is serving as the team’s pitching coach this season. He racked up an MCL-record 18 career saves in 2013 and 2014 including a single-season MCL record 13 in his final campaign with the Oilmen. Pobereyko is an active professional pitcher and has reached as high as Triple-A.
- As usual, the Oilmen are loaded with local talent. Three Oilmen players graduated from Andrean High School, one from Highland, three from Griffith, one from Valparaiso, two from Munster and two from Lake Central. Expanding to Illinois high schools, two Oilmen competed at Brother Rice, one at Oak Forest, one at Marist, one at Marian Catholic, three at Homewood-Flossmoor, one at Carl Sandburg, one at St. Rita and one at St. Laurence.