07/14/2016 10:07 AM
Southland Vikings (15-17)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (20-15)
July 14, 2016 • 7:20 p.m. • Whiting, Ind.
Radio: AM 1230 WJOB, 104.7 FM
Online: NWIOilmen.com, wjob1230.com
NWI’s Sam Geraci (Illinois Springfield / Steger, Ill.) vs. Southland’s Phil Madvek (Purdue Northwest / Hobart, Ind.)
The Oilmen return to the diamond after four straight days off. The All-Star Break was extended by a day since Wednesday’s game was postponed by rain. The Oilmen enter Thursday looking to extend their winning streak to six after a perfect 5-0 road trip. The Oilmen are just ½ game behind first-place DuPage County. NWI can move into first place with a win and help from the Bobcats, who host the Hounds on Thursday. The last time the Oilmen owned sole possession of first place in the MCL was July 7, 2015. The Oilmen have never won a regular-season MCL title. The Hounds won the regular season-season crown in 2013 and 2015, while the Vikings (2014), DeKalb County Liners (2012) and Rockford Foresters (2011) also own league titles. The Oilmen had 11 participants in Tuesday’s MCL All-Star Game, but the White All-Stars fell to Blue 10-2. Hunter Clark retired the side in order while throwing only seven pitches in the eighth inning. Clay Keltner and Braden Niksich also worked scoreless frames, while Tommy Szczasny had two hits.
Inside the Oilmen
The Oilmen will look to uphold their team-wide strong pitching as Sam Geraci takes the ball on Thursday. Geraci was the starting pitcher for the Blue All-Stars in Tuesday’s MCL All-Star Game. He has the best ERA of any starting pitcher in the MCL at 1.11 in four starts. Geraci owns a spotless 4-0 record in 24 1/3 innings. He has issued five walks and struck out 15. To put into perspective how good Oilmen pitching has been, Max Siedlecki’s ERA of 2.73 ranks seventh on the team, and would be first on the Bobcats, first on the Vikings, second on the Lakers, third on the Hounds and second on the Admirals. The Oilmen lead the league in team ERA at 2.89, well ahead of second-place DuPage at 4.10. The Oilmen pitching staff also leads the league in strikeouts with 235 and WHIP at 1.50. In addition, the Oilmen lead the league in hitting at .296. Stefano Belmonte (.398) and Tommy Szczasny (.395) rank one and two in the league in batting average.
Inside the Vikings
Southland starter Phil Madvek enters Thursday night with revenge on his mind after allowing 12 runs (10 earned) on 14 hits in three innings against the Oilmen on July 9 to take the loss. He beat the Oilmen earlier in the season, yielding four runs on nine hits in six innings on June 23. Overall, this will be Madvek’s fourth start of the season. He’s 2-1 with a 10.29 ERA in 14 innings. The Vikings have dropped three straight games and are now ½ game in back of Bloomington for the final playoff spot.
About the Matchup
This is the ninth meeting of the year between the two teams with the Oilmen and Vikings splitting the first eight right down the middle. The Oilmen lead the all-time series 26-22. NWI dominated the most recent meeting, matching the most lopsided victory in Oilmen history with a 16-0 win on July 9. After Thursday, there are still four more Oilmen/Vikings matchups this season.
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