08/08/2020 9:30 AM
MCL Minutemen (10-19)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (21-9)
Aug. 8, 2020 • 6:10 p.m. • Whiting, Ind. • Oil City Stadium
Broadcast: Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Facebook Live)
The Midwest Collegiate League has announced a change to the league’s schedule, meaning the Oilmen will wrap up the regular season on Friday, Aug. 14 and the best-of-three championship series will run Aug. 15-17. That means every game is crucial in the race for the top spot in the MCL standings, including Saturday’s matchup with the MCL Minutemen.
Pitching Matchup – Northwest Indiana LHP Connor Oliver (Wichita State / Wabash Valley / Oak Forest, Ill.) vs. Minutemen RHP Ryan Troxel (Indianapolis Tech / Valparaiso, Ind.)
- The Oilmen are 8-1 against the MCL Minutemen this season and have a chance to keep it rolling over the final week of the regular season. Including Saturday, these two teams still have three matchups remaining against one another.
- The Oilmen hold a two games lead over DuPage County for the top spot in the MCL standings with seven games remaining in the regular season. The Oilmen own a 3 ½ game cushion over third-place Crestwood and need to remain in the top two to secure a spot in the championship series. The red-hot Panthers are nipping at the heels of the Hounds as Crestwood sits just 1 ½ back of the final playoff spot entering action on Saturday.
- Jack Guzek struck out a season-high 11 over seven dazzling innings to help the Oilmen beat the Minutemen 8-2 on Friday. Guzek now has 48 strikeouts for the season, seven shy of the single-season Oilmen record of 55 set by Enrique Zamora in 2015. The Oilmen record book includes only regular-season stats, and whether or not Guzek will receive another regular-season start for a crack at the record remains to be seen. Guzek has worked 32 1/3 innings this season, while Zamora logged 49 innings on his way to the record.
- Clay Thompson is up to 27 walks for the season, but he still needs a walk-filled week to have a chance at Chris Baker’s single-season record of 35 that was established in 2017.
- Angelo Cantelo has 26 RBIs this season. The Oilmen record of 37 (Nick Bartolone) has stood since 2013, one of the club’s longest-standing records.
- The Oilmen have won three straight to up their season winning percentage to .700. The team record for winning percentage is .720 (34-16), set in 2017. In order to shatter that record, the Oilmen need to go 6-1 or better over their last six regular-season games.
- Connor Oliver (1-1, 1.61 ERA) will appear in his seventh game and made his fifth start on Saturday night. He has struck out 25 and walked 14 over 23 innings. He has permitted four runs (one earned) on four hits and four walks in four innings against the MCL Minutemen this season.
- Ryan Troxel (0-4, 6.28 ERA) will take the ball for Jack Murphy’s team on Saturday. He has walked 12 and struck out 25 over 28 2/3 innings, including two starts against the Oilmen in July during which he allowed eight runs (six earned) on 11 hits while striking out 13 over 10 innings.
- 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.