07/28/2016 1:58 PM
DuPage County Hounds (28-18)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (26-20)
July 28, 2016 • 7:20 p.m. • Whiting, Ind.
Radio: AM 1230 WJOB, 104.7 FM (7 p.m. pregame)
Online: NWIOilmen.com, wjob1230.com
NWI’s Clay Keltner (Cornerstone / Highland, Ind.) vs. DuPage County’s Chase Lowman (College of DuPage / League City, Texas)
With five games remaining in the regular season, the Oilmen control their own fate for the top spot in the Midwest Collegiate League. Thursday’s game is vital, as the Oilmen would be eliminated from contention for the MCL regular season title with a loss. The Oilmen enter the day in second place, two games behind DuPage County for the league lead and ½ game ahead of Joliet for second. Thursday’s game essentially represents a two-game swing in the standings. If the Oilmen win, they would not only gain a game, but would also own a potential head-to-head tiebreaker. Entering Thursday, the two teams have split the first eight meetings this season right down the middle. This marks the final home game of the regular season for the Oilmen as Pierogi Fest will invade 119th Street beginning on Friday. Oil City Stadium will be used on Saturday for a performance by the Village People. The Oilmen will return home for postseason baseball either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Inside the Oilmen
The Oilmen overcame five errors on Wednesday by racking up 17 hits in a 16-9 victory over the Lakers. Stefano Belmonte had three doubles and four hits to lead the way, his first three-double game in his 64-game Oilmen career. It was the fourth three-hit game of the year for Belmonte. Chris Baker drew two walks on Wednesday to boost his season total to 30, matching the franchise record set by Jack Czeszewski. Baker went 3-for-3 and reached base five times, notching his fifth game this season with three hits or more. Catcher Zack Forney posted his first three-hit performance of the summer. Tommy Szcasny is 8-for-19 (.421) in games against the Hounds this season. Tyler Sroczynski has four straight multi-hit games and is hitting .500 with nine RBIs during that stretch. He now leads the team and ranks second in the league with 31 RBIs despite hitting leadoff and is within six of Nick Bartolone’s franchise record. Clay Keltner will face the Hounds for the second consecutive week. He received no decision on July 22 after allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits. Keltner beat the Hounds with five shutout innings on June 17 and got no decision after five, two-run innings on May 28. This season, Keltner is 3-3 with a 3.80 ERA in eight starts. He is the only Oilmen pitcher on the active roster that has not made at least one relief appearance this season.
Inside the Hounds
DuPage County carries a five-game winning streak into Thursday’s game. The Hounds edged Bloomington 4-3 on Wednesday to remain two games ahead of the Oilmen. The Hounds feature the league’s RBI leader in Tyler Tesmond. Their top hitter in terms of batting average is Ryan Krob at .367. Brandon Post has four multi-hit games against the Oilmen this season. DuPage can lock up home field advantage in the first round of the postseason with a victory. If they beat the Oilmen on Thursday, they can reduce their magic number to one to clinch the MCL regular season title. The Hounds will send Chase Lowman to the mound for Thursday’s game. He has logged 50 innings over 12 games (seven starts) and holds a 3.42 ERA and 5-3 record. Lowman has walked 25 against a team-leading 44 strikeouts. He’s 0-2 against the Oilmen in two starts, having allowed 11 runs (eight earned) in 6 2/3 innings.
About the Matchup
The Oilmen are trying to win the season series against the Hounds for the second straight year. DuPage County leads the all-time series 22-20. They have split the first 40 all-time regular-season meetings right down the middle.
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