07/30/2015 10:42 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – July 30, 2015 – Entering the week, the Oilmen had a tall mountain to scale if they wanted home-field advantage in the first round of the Midwest Collegiate League playoffs.
It’s still no easy task, but after three consecutive victories the job is looking slightly less daunting for NWI.
The Oilmen continued their roll by downing Michigan City 9-2 on Thursday, eliminating the Lakers from playoff contention in the process.
Christian Sullivan, normally a reliever, made his first start as an Oilman. He gutted through 5 2/3 innings and allowed only one run, which was unearned. Sullivan (1-1) scattered seven hits, struck out four and walked four.
“It was nice to take my time warming up and get ready at my own pace,” Sullivan said. “Out of the bullpen, you’ve got to get ready as fast as you can, and sometimes you’re not even loose going into the game. It wasn’t my best start, but I got the job done. I got outs and I kept the game under control.”
The Lakers failed to fully capitalize on bases-loaded chances in the fourth, fifth and sixth. They grounded into three double plays and left 14 stranded on base.
Although Oilmen manager Adam Enright knows the importance of home-field advantage in the opening round of the playoffs, his route to forcing Friday’s doubleheader with Lexington required contributions from pitchers that have been used out of the bullpen all season.
Hunter Clark, Richard Yelnick, Sam Bell and now Christian Sullivan have answered the call, as the Oilmen enter Friday with a chance at home-field advantage without having burned any of their top arms.
“The puzzle pieces have fit together nicely,” Enright said. “Everything has gone according to script, as we drew it up. One more day to try to piece it together. We’ve had a lot of energy and a lot of fun in the dugout, and hopefully that will carry over (to Friday).”
Tom Fitzgerald (0-1) was the losing pitcher, allowing eight earned runs on eight hits and eight walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Sam Geraci came on to pitch the final 3 1/3 innings for the Oilmen. Geraci worked 12 2/3 innings at Parkland this spring, but had not pitched for the Oilmen this summer. Although he’s spent most of the summer as a shortstop, he looked right at home on the mound.
Geraci earned the save, allowing one run on three hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“I wish I would have known he was that good all year,” Enright said. “His curveball was really good. Maybe that’s a guy we end up running back out there in the playoffs, you never know.”
Zack Jones had a productive offensive day, racking up three hits and three RBIs. Brian Seymour had two hits, while Joe Jumonville and Josh Turnock each drove in a pair.
The Lakers (13-24) were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, as the Admirals clinch the fourth playoff spot. The Lakers and Admirals will play at 5 p.m. on Friday, but the game no longer impacts the MCL standings.
With DuPage County’s wins over Southland on Thursday, the matchups for the first round of the playoffs are set. The Hounds will face the Admirals, while the Oilmen oppose the Lexington Snipes.
The Oilmen (25-17) will welcome the Snipes for a doubleheader on Friday with Game 1 beginning at 4 p.m. and Game 2 starting at 7:30. If the Oilmen win both games, they will overtake the Snipes for second place in the standings and capture home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
It’s Elvis Night at the ballpark for Friday’s regular season finale. Come enjoy the entertainment of the top Elvis Impersonator in Chicagoland Michael St. Angel as he entertains you with all the classic Elvis hits. All kids 12 and under are free as part of BP Family Friday and all tickets are $12 with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Clark High School Athletic Department.