08/02/2021 11:18 PM -
Carol Stream, Ill. – Aug. 2, 2021 – With four games to go, the Midwest Collegiate League regular-season crown is very much up for grabs.
After a July 25 doubleheader sweep of the second-place Joliet Generals that stretched their lead to 4 ½ games, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen seemed to have a tight grip on the top spot in the MCL standings. However, the Generals have won seven consecutive games – including Monday’s 9-3 triumph over the Oilmen at Lee Pfund Stadium – to reduce the NWI lead to just ½ game.
Joliet jumped on the board with three in the first and three more in the second and never looked back, adding single tallies in the fourth, sixth and eighth innings. NWI pitchers issued seven walks while working around four Oilmen errors on a staff day that saw five pitchers take the mound.
“I thought Nick Torres did well in his start,” Oilmen manager TJ Marik said. “There were a few close pitches that didn’t go his way that caused his pitch count to increase, but I thought he was dotting corners and staying low in the zone. Tom Conzemius did well after his first inning. It was nice to see Tyler Preissing make his debut for us. All of our pitchers did OK, but their hitters did a nice job today.”
Joliet’s Matt Dinkel tossed six shutout innings of two-hit ball, striking out nine while issuing three walks to earn the victory. The Oilmen did all of their scoring in the top of the seventh and had just five hits in the game, four of which were singles.
The Oilmen (22-10) are off on Tuesday, while the Generals (23-12) have a chance to move to within percentage points of the Oilmen for first place if they can top Crestwood on Tuesday. Joliet would be zero games back with a victory, but the Oilmen would still hold a slight edge in the standings based on winning percentage. Matchups between the league’s top two teams have evolved into a new-found rivalry this season.
“It’s college baseball, you know there’s going to be a little bit of chatter,” Marik said. “I’ve told our guys since the beginning of the season that since we’re the Oilmen, everyone is out to beat us. We see the opposing team’s top arm a lot and things like that. We can’t let those things affect our game. We have to keep playing hard and doing things the right way. When I was a player, I talked a little bit too, that is all part of what makes college baseball fun. It’s fun playing the Generals because you know you’re going to get a good game every single time.”
Fans will be treated to one more Oilmen-Generals regular season meeting on Friday, but first the Oilmen will enjoy the aforementioned off day before returning to the diamond for the road finale on Wednesday at 7:05 at Gouwens Park in South Holland, Ill. against the Chicago American Giants. Leo Staudacher and Zach Carr will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, available via Facebook Live.