Despite an amazing performance on the mound that saw the Oilmen give up only two runs on five, the Oilmen were unable to hold off the Bloomington Bobcats in game two of the Midwest Collegiate League Championship Series. The Bobcats, who won game one of the series at O’Neil Park, secured their first-ever MCL Championship with a 2-1 win at Oil City Stadium.
The do-or-die game started well for the Oilmen when Ben Berenda (Indiana University Southeast / Renssalaer, Ind.) drove in Michael Bolton (Purdue University / Calumet City, Ill.) in the bottom of the first inning to jump out to an early lead.
The Oilmen would hold the lead until the top of the fifth inning, due to the work of starting pitcher Tyler Laux (Prairie View A&M / Chicago, Ill.) who recently returned to the team. Laux would pitch four and two-thirds innings, giving up just two hits while striking out five and allowing one unearned run.
“It was just like last night, the guys on the mound gave us a chance to win this game,” Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell said. “Tyler did a great job continuing to find the zone, even after we made a couple of mistakes defensively.”
The Oilmen, who had several players outside of their natural positions due to injury, struggled at times defensively. The team gave up five errors that led to the Bobcats two scoring opportunities.
Anthony Hernandez (College of DuPage / Chicago, Ill.) would come in to relieve with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and held the Bobcats without a run. In his one and one-third innings pitched, Hernandez would hold the Bobcats without a hit, keeping it a tied game.
“Hernandez has been one of the silent MVPs of this team,” Tyrrell said. “He’s gotten through so many innings and helped this team get to where we are. Hernandez, along with Mike Madura (Purdue Fort Wayne / Munster, Ind.) and Gabe Pulido (South Suburban College / Griffith, Ind.) are some of the most improved players this year.”
The Oilmen would come close to retaking the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when Patrick Doran (South Suburban College / Evergreen Park, Ill.) would move into scoring position with one out. However, the Oilmen would be unable to drive him in.
Brandon Laux (Kirkwood Community College / Chicago, Ill.) would come in to close out the last three innings for the Oilmen. Laux would hold the Bobcats to just three hits while striking out three and allowing just one unearned run in the top of the eighth inning.
The Oilmen would get a man to first in the bottom of the ninth but were unable to score the tying run and send the game into extra innings.
“I’m proud of the resilience this team showed all year long,” Tyrrell said. “Any time something didn’t go our way, the guys would continue to work and push forward. That’s life. Things aren’t always going to go perfectly. It’s about the ability to keep going after obstacles get in your way.”