07/09/2015 10:21 AM -
July 9, 2015 • 5 p.m. • Whiting, Ind.
Internet Broadcast: nwioilmen.com
NWI’s Brandon Murray (South Carolina / Hobart, Ind.) vs. Southland’s Matt Sandoval (Purdue Calumet / Highland, Ind.)
The Oilmen will send South Carolina right-handed pitcher Brandon Murray to the mound for his Midwest Collegiate League debut. The freshman made 20 relief appearances for the Gamecocks this spring, going 5-0 with two saves and a 4.36 ERA in 33 innings. He was selected in the 30th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He will become the second draftee to the take the field for the Oilmen in the team’s four-year history. He was rated the top high school prospect in Indiana by Perfect Game USA during his senior season. The Hobart High School graduate is on a strict pitch count and is expected to work no more than three innings.
Inside the Oilmen
The Oilmen begin a busy stretch on Thursday after enjoying three consecutive days off. It’s the first of 11 straight games without a day off and 18 games in 18 days including a doubleheader against Southland on July 25. Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Fort Wayne Jackers was rained out. The Oilmen were well represented in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, helping the South to a 10-3 win over the North. Stefano Belmonte had two hits and two RBIs, while Tyler Sroczynski stole an incredible four bases. Sroczynski ranks third in the league in batting average at .375 and second in steals with 10. Belmonte leads the MCL in RBIs with 22, while Jordan Lewis is the league leader in home runs with three. As a team, the Oilmen are hitting .298 to lead the league.
Inside the Vikings
The Vikings rank last of the six Midwest Collegiate League teams in batting average at .242. Their 4.77 ERA is fifth in the MCL. Southland’s Cody Haver played with NWI’s Donovan Chandler, Jeremy Wright and Jimmy Skiff at Andrean High School. Jake Hickey of the Vikings was teammates with Wright, Brian Seymour and Stefano Belmonte at South Suburban College. According to the book Chicago Heights: At the Crossroads of the Nation, Hap Bruno Field was home to a Chicago Cubs exhibition game against the Chicago Heights Athletics in the 1930s that drew a paid attendance of almost 9,000. The field was initially known as Chicago Heights Athletic Association Park, but was eventually named after Mario “Hap” Bruno, a manager of the Chicago Heights Athletics in the 1930s.
About the Matchup
The Oilmen have played the Vikings the fewest times of any Midwest Collegiate League opponent, as they recorded wins in both of the June meetings between the two teams. The Oilmen won 5-3 on June 3 at Hap Bruno Field and 13-0 on June 28 at Oil City Stadium. The Oilmen are 16-17 in the all-time series with the Vikings. The two-time defending MCL champs find themselves in the league’s cellar.
Around the MCL
DuPage County defeated Joliet 3-1 in a five-inning game on Wednesday at Wayne L. King Junior Field. Umpires called the game due to darkness after five innings. The Hounds and Oilmen are now locked in a first-place tie, while Lexington is one game off the pace. The Snipes and Hounds both have Thursday off and play each other on Friday, so games against Southland and Michigan City present the Oilmen with an opportunity to build a lead in the standings.
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