06/15/2014 10:38 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 15, 2014 – Although Matt Pobereyko may not capture newspaper headlines as regularly as Oilmen starting pitchers or position players, the hard-throwing closer has consistently done his job each of the last two summers with Northwest Indiana.
This season, Pobereyko’s ability to slam the door has gone to a whole new level. Only 12 games into the season, Pobereyko has already established a new Midwest Collegiate League saves record with six, eclipsing his own mark of five from a season ago. He reached the feat by nailing down the save in Sunday’s 6-3 victory over the Lexington Snipes.
When the flame-throwing Bishop Noll graduate is summoned from the Oilmen bullpen and jogs onto the field – always sporting a full beard and his signature yellow shirt underneath his jersey – the game is all but over.
“He’s got good stuff first and foremost,” Oilmen manager Justin Huisman said. “He gets ahead of most hitters and gets ahead with his breaking stuff and the fastball command. To be a good closer, you’ve got to be tough mentally. He’s out there and he looks as calm as could be, whether things are going well for him or not.”
There have not been too many times over the course of the last five games that things have not been going well for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. Their winning streak reached five with Sunday’s triumph.
Crown Point product Nick Nauracy got the nod on the mound against the Snipes with an opportunity for redemption after being tagged for five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings on June 1 in Lexington.
Nauracy was touched for two runs in the first, but the Oilmen offense picked him up by scoring five times in the bottom of the inning. He tossed five innings and allowed three runs to notch the victory.
“It felt great,” Nauracy said. “I haven’t had that many pitches in a long time. Facing these guys again, it was like I had a chip on my shoulder after the last outing. I couldn’t wait to get out there.”
Nauracy’s solid performance also allowed him to make a case for himself to remain in the Oilmen starting rotation moving forward.
“I was really eager before the game and I kind of pitched for a purpose,” Nauracy said. “I wanted to show them that I’m still a starter; I could still do it. I wanted to get us in line for a victory.”
After scoring five times in the first, the Oilmen were quiet offensively until the eighth inning, when they tacked on an insurance tally as Nick Vogelmeier’s run-scoring single made it 6-3.
Vogelmeier, who had two hits in the game, was also involved in a unique play defensively for the Oilmen. Lexington (6-6, 5-5) had a runner on first and one out against Danny Pobereyko in the seventh inning when Jeff Cardenas lifted a routine fly ball to Vogelmeier at short. Cardenas did not run the fly ball out, so Vogelmeier alertly dropped the ball intentionally and started a 6-4-3 double play.
“It was just excellent communication,” Huisman said. “They saw that neither of the guys were running, so somebody out there screamed at him to let it drop. He did and we turned a double play in a big moment.”
With DuPage County’s victory over Joliet on Sunday, the Oilmen remain 1.5 games off the pace in the MCL standings.
The Oilmen (8-4, 7-3) will look for their sixth straight win on Tuesday night against nonleague foe Michigan City in a game that starts at 7:10 p.m. at Oil City Stadium. It is Green Day at the ballpark with 50 percent of all ticket proceeds benefiting the Nathan Hale Elementary Education fund.