By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – July 7, 2015 – Since 2012, there have been a few constants in the Midwest Collegiate League.
The DuPage County Hounds and Northwest Indiana Oilmen making the playoffs. The league churning out talent that has gone on to play at the professional level. Sean Osborne sitting at the top step of the Hounds dugout.
Another is the South winning the Midwest Collegiate League All-Star Game. The Northwest Indiana Oilmen and Southland Vikings were on the winning side again, this time joined by first-year league member Michigan City. The South picked up its fourth consecutive win, besting the North 10-3.
The North squad was comprised of members of the DuPage County Hounds, Joliet Admirals and Lexington Snipes.
Michigan City’s Joe Kennedy, a St. John native who attends Eastern Michigan University, received the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award. He reached base in all three plate appearances, drawing two walks and picking up a single. Kennedy swiped one base and came in to score two runs.
“I had fun out there and played my game,” Kennedy said. “I stayed under control and good things happened. It’s a good team win and I’m happy to be out here.”
Success in the MCL was nothing new for Kennedy. He leads the league in batting average at the season’s midway point with a .430 mark.
“I’ve been staying relaxed,” he said. “I’m not getting down on myself. If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”
Northwest Indiana’s Stefano Belmonte (South Suburban / Munster, Ind.) was the only player on the South with a multi-hit game. He went 2-for-5 and drove in two. NWI’s Tyler Sroczynski (Trinity Christian / Dyer, Ind.) went 1-for-3 at the dish, but did the bulk of his damage on the bases. He swiped four bases, despite only playing five innings.
Southland’s Chris Stevens (Eastern New Mexico / Bolingbrook) also had a productive offensive day. He went 1-for-4, but drove in three runs with a run-scoring grounder, single and sacrifice fly.
NWI’s Jimmy Skiff (Purdue Calumet / Andrean HS) was the winning pitcher despite allowing an unearned run in the first inning. Joliet’s Steven Skolarz (Loyola Marymount / Lincoln Way West) took the defeat, allowing three runs (none earned) on no hits and two walks in the first.
Lexington manager Billy DuBois was at the helm in an All-Star Game for the first time in his 15-year career with the Snipes. He managed opposite his former player, South skipper Tony Sanchez, who is in his first year in charge of the Southland Vikings.
“We shook hands and I said, ‘I love you man,’ and he said, ‘I love you coach,’” DuBois said. “That’s bittersweet. It’s kind of cool. He remembers everything we did for him; he didn’t forget.”
Although it was an All-Star Game that did not count in the league standings, DuBois and members of the North squad walked away with a mild sense of frustration.
“I think everybody was trying to showcase what they’ve got instead of just trying to play the game,” he said. “We threw the ball around a little bit. It snowballed on us. They’re a good team; we got down and tried to play catchup the whole time. It’s hard to play relaxed when you’re playing catch-up.”
The second half of the Midwest Collegiate League season begins on Wednesday when the Hounds visit the Admirals at 5 p.m. DuPage County needs a win to move back into a tie with the Oilmen atop the MCL standings. Lexington enters the second half riding a four-game winning streak and only one game out of first in the MCL.
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