07/24/2018 1:03 AM
Southland Vikings (19-12)
at NWI Oilmen (22-17)
July 24, 2018 • 7:10 p.m. • Whiting, Ind.
Broadcast: Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Facebook Live)
NWI RHP Christian Howell (Trinity Christian / Aurora, Ill.) vs. Southland LHP Anthony Rogers (Concordia University / Bolingbrook, Ill.
The stakes are high on Tuesday night at Oil City Stadium as the teams battling for second place in the MCL standings face off. The Oilmen are currently in third, but can climb to within percentage points of Southland with a victory over the Vikings on Tuesday in the final meeting of the regular season between two teams that appear to be on a collision course for a first-round playoff series. Tuesday’s pitching matchup pits a pair of aces against one another in Christian Howell and Anthony Rogers, making it clear that both managers are well aware of the game’s significance. The Oilmen had an impressive offensive showing on Monday as they pounded out 17 hits with the top six hitters in the batting order enjoying multi-hit days in a 14-5 win over the first-place Hounds.
Inside the Oilmen
Christian Howell will make the final regular-season start of his four-year Oilmen career on Tuesday night at Oil City Stadium. He has already picked up four wins this season and owns the Oilmen career wins record with 14. A win on Tuesday would allow him to become the first player in Oilmen history to win five games or more in two separate seasons as he was previously a five-game winner in 2016. Howell is also the career leader in innings pitched with 170 1/3 – well ahead of second place (Brian Jestice at 91 1/3). Howell holds the Oilmen record for career strikeouts as he enters the game with 135. This season, Howell has fanned a career-high 39 and needs seven on Tuesday to finish ahead of Max Franklin for the team lead. Franklin’s 45 are tied for fourth in single-season franchise history with Cameron Linck (2014). Enrique Zamora (55, 2015) is the recordholder. Two other key record watches continue as Nate Montgomery needs one more home run to tie Tyler Sroczynski’s single-season record of seven and Nick Figus (.518 OBP) has a chance to shatter the Oilmen single-season on-base percentage record of .500 that has stood since the team’s inaugural season of 2012.
Inside the Vikings
The Vikings will send left-hander Anthony Rogers to the mound for Tuesday’s showdown. The starting pitcher for the MCL East All-Stars, Rogers holds a 3.07 ERA and a 4-0 record. He has struck out 44 in 44 innings. Southland had consecutive games postponed by inclement weather and field conditions this weekend, so the Vikings last played on Friday, a 2-0 win over Crestwood. Before that, the Vikings had dropped four straight games, a skid that started with a 20-3 loss to the Oilmen on July 12. Dave Letourneau’s squad will host Bloomington on Wednesday before playing Joliet in four of the final five games of the season. The non-General opponent is DuPage County on Saturday.
About the Matchup
In addition to shattering the club record for margin of victory, the aforementioned 17-run win extended NWI’s head-to-head winning streak over Southland to four. The Oilmen are 34-31 all-time against the Vikings, who trail 4-3 in this year’s season series. Southland won the first three meetings of the year, but hasn’t found a way to top the Oilmen since. This is the final time the two squads will clash in the regular season.
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