08/01/2015 10:58 AM -
August 1, 2015 • 7:10 p.m. • Whiting, Ind.
Internet Broadcast: nwioilmen.com
NWI’s Enrique Zamora (Calumet College / Hammond, Ind.) vs. Lexington’s Reid Birlingmair (University of Illinois Chicago)
The Oilmen are back in the Midwest Collegiate League playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. They hold an all-time playoff record of 6-4, but they have lost four consecutive postseason games. The first game of a postseason series has been vital in Midwest Collegiate League history. Since the league began in 2010, no team has erased a 1-0 deficit to win a best-of-three playoff set. The team that wins game one has gone on to win the series in all 13 MCL playoff series in the league’s first five seasons Since the Oilmen joined the league in 2012, all nine playoff series have resulted in two-game sweeps, with the team that wins game one going on to win the second game.
Inside the Oilmen
The Oilmen won the regular season series with every Midwest Collegiate League playoff team. The Oilmen begin their quest for their first championship since 2012 on Saturday night at Oil City Stadium. Tyler Sroczynski posted the highest batting average in Oilmen history during the regular season, finishing at .397. Sroczynski and Oilmen teammate Stefano Belmonte finished tied for the league lead in RBIs with 30 apiece. For Saturday’s Game 1, Enrique Zamora gets the ball for Northwest Indiana. He finished the regular season 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 11 games, six starts. Zamora struck out a franchise-record 55 batters in 49 innings of work. He started against Lexington on June 20, striking out 10 and limiting the Snipes to one run over six innings. The Oilmen are 3-0 when Zamora starts at Oil City Stadium this season. Friday’s win in Game 1 of a doubleheader was the 100th MCL victory in Oilmen history.
Inside the Snipes
The Snipes have reached the postseason in all three years they’ve been in the Midwest Collegiate League. However, they enter Saturday seeking their first MCL playoff win in team history. Lexington was swept in the first round in both 2013 and 2014. Saturday’s game begins Lexington’s quest for its first championship since 2010, with that most recent title coming when the Snipes were part of the Eastern Illinois Baseball League. Lexington’s Game 1 starter is Reid Birlingmair, who went 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA during the regular season. He has walked 16 and struck out 33 in 32 2/3 innings. Against the Oilmen on July 13, Birlingmair allowed four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings and took the loss.
About the Matchup
The Oilmen went 5-4 against the Snipes in the regular season, sealing the season set and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs with 12-2 and 13-2 wins in a doubleheader between the two teams on Friday. The Oilmen lead the all-time series with the Snipes 17-9. The two teams have met in the postseason once before, when the Oilmen took both games from the Snipes in 2013. The last postseason meeting between the two teams was July 31, 2013, when the Oilmen downed the Snipes 17-9 to advance to their second MCL Championship Series. Northwest Indiana banged out 23 hits in the game, which still stands as the franchise record.
Around the MCL
The Hounds and Admirals begin their best-of-three playoff series on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Lemont. The Admirals have reached the postseason for the first time since 2011, then known as the Rockford Foresters.
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