05/25/2016 10:53 PM
Northwest Indiana Oilmen (0-0)
at Bloomington Bobcats (0-0)
May 27, 2015 • 7:30 p.m. • Bloomington, Ill.
Radio: Internet Only (NWIOilmen.com)
NWI’s Max Siedlecki (New Mexico Highland / Chicago, Ill.) vs. Bloomington’s Mitch Weis (Illinois State / Ballwin, Mo.)
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen begin their fifth season on Friday in Bloomington. The opener was scheduled to take place on Thursday, but the Oilmen were postponed by rain on opening night for the third straight year. The Oilmen have reached the postseason four consecutive years, but haven’t played won a Midwest Collegiate League title since 2012. They return six players from last year’s team, the most in franchise history. The Oilmen are 2-2 on Opening Day over their first four seasons. They dropped the season openers in 2012 and 2013, then beat the Snipes 2-1 in 2014 and the Admirals 5-2 to begin the 2015 campaign. This marks the fourth time in five years the Oilmen have begun the season away from Northwest Indiana.
Inside the Oilmen
The Oilmen send 6-foot-4 right-hander Max Siedlecki (New Mexico Highlands / Chicago, Ill.) to the mound to start the first game of the season on Friday. He joins a list of Oilmen Opening Day starters that also includes Keith Mahler (2015), Jimmy McNamara (2014), Michael Steensen (2013) and Tait Rauen (2012). Siedlecki went 0-6 with a 7.42 ERA during the spring season. Friday will be his first game action since a scoreless inning against Adams State on April 24.
Inside the Bobcats
Friday marks the return of collegiate summer baseball to Bloomington, resuming the team’s rich history that has been on hiatus since 2002. The Bobcats were originally run by legendary Illinois Wesleyan University baseball coach Jack Horenberger. Ben Alsene, who ran the team from 1982-2002, gave general manager Mike Brown his stamp of approval to bring the Bobcats back. Players to watch include catcher Pat Mollo (Illinois Wesleyan), who was named a Division-III Preseason All-American. Tim Smyk led Illinois Wesleyan in hitting this season at .394 in 29 games. Grant Anderson was among McKendree’s top hitters, compiling a .326 average in 41 games. Friday’s starting pitcher Mitch Weis had an 8.15 ERA in four starts this year at Division-I Illinois State.
Due to the success of Oilmen players during their spring seasons, the Oilmen will play shorthanded on Friday. Chase Dawson (Valparaiso / Chesterton, Ind.) is the starting second baseman for Division-I Valparaiso, which won 10-7 over Northern Kentucky on Wednesday in the Horizon League Tournament. Dawson, named to the league’s all-freshman team, went 3-for-3 in Wednesday’s game. In the same game, NKU had an Oilman in its starting lineup, as Brad Bohlen notched a base hit. Valpo split two games on Thursday to stay alive in the tournament. UIC’s Chris Baker saw his team’s season end on Thursday. Stefano Belmonte is competing in the Atlantic Sun Tournament for Florida Gulf Coast, defeated Kennesaw State 6-0 on Thursday. Tyler Sroczynski is at Trinity Christian, which is competing in the NCCAA National Championships this week in Mason, Ohio. Oilmen manager Adam Enright is an assistant coach at Trinity Christian, so he too will miss Friday’s game. Former Lexington Snipes manager Billy DuBois will fill in as Oilmen manager. Luke Jaksich and Andrean High School open up sectional play with a 14-4 victory over Portage on Thursday. Jordan Petty and Highland play Friday against Munster. Tommy Szczasny is finishing his prep season at Lincoln Way West. Sam Geraci and Richard Yelnick are playing in the NJCAA Division-II World Series for Parkland on Saturday. Blake Cleveland is playing in the MAC Tournament with Central Michigan, which defeated Ball State 4-0 on Thursday.