Minutemen Offensive Outburst Not Enough to Take Down Hounds

By: Ryan Zimmerman

Lansing, Ill. – From top to bottom, the MCL Minutemen lineup fired on all cylinders to the tune of nine runs on 12 hits, tripling their output from the night before. However, they were unable to keep up with the DuPage County Hounds, as their late-game clutch hitting kept the Minutemen at bay, handing them a 12-9 loss.

Every position player to take the field for the Minutemen reached base at least twice, each finding multiple ways to get on base. In addition to their twelve hits, they drew 11 walks and were hit by three pitches.

“I am very happy with our approach at the plate today,” manager Jack Murphy said. “Our philosophy is to compete in the strike zone and don’t chase anything. We did an excellent job of taking pitches and really making the other guys [Hounds] really battle to get us out.”

While their disciplined approach led to success in the batter’s box, their aggressive mentality on the basepaths caused even more chaos for Hounds pitching. The Minutemen went a perfect 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts and took three more on pitches in the dirt. Mike Bolton (Purdue/Calumet City, Ill.) led the way with two steals.

“After yesterday’s game, I told the guys that we need to stay aggressive running the bases,” Murphy said. “They really took that to heart today. Baserunning is going to be one of our strengths all year, we’ve got a lot of speed. If it takes a perfect throw to get us out, then I’m totally fine with that. We’re not afraid to take chances, and it’s really paying off.”

As the offense took the main headline, starting pitcher Ryan Troxel (Saint Xavier/Valparaiso, Ind.) quietly carved through the DuPage County lineup.  In his first-ever start as a collegiate pitcher, he threw six quality innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits, striking out four. His ability to work out of jams and avoid the big inning gave the Minutemen key boosts when they needed them most.  He stranded six Hounds on base and retired the last six batters he faced.

“Ryan just attacked everybody from the start,” Murphy noted. “He was fearless out there. Even after giving up an early double, he continued to pound the zone and battle. After the fifth inning, I went over to him to see how he was feeling, and he told me ‘do not take me out of this game.’ If you’re pitching that well and you have that attitude, it’s a no-brainer to let him keep going.”

The runs came early and often for both teams in the early goings, but it was the Minutemen’s plate discipline and willingness to work counts that spotted them a 9-4 lead after six innings. Bolton, Matthew Lelito (Kankakee CC/Merrillville, Ind.), Ryan Missal (Western Michigan/Lowell, Ind.), Ryan Howe (Purdue/Mount Prospect, Ill.), and Ryan McCoy provided timely two-out hits to put some distance between themselves and the perennial MCL power. 

But, in the game’s final third, the Hounds stepped up and took control. Back-to-back four-run innings in the seventh and eighth powered a comeback that ultimately put the game out of reach.

“Sometimes things just don’t go your way,” Murphy said. “Everybody played really hard and fought up until the last pitch.  It just wasn’t meant to be today.”

The loss drops the Minutemen to 0-2 in the early stages of the 2020 Midwest Collegiate League season. They are still searching for their first win in franchise history.

The Minutemen take the field once again tomorrow at Dowling Park as they visit the Southland Vikings at 5:00. You can catch all the action on the Southland Vikings Broadcast Network via Facebook Live with Jack Theil and Ryan Zimmerman on the call.  

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