By: Ryan Zimmerman
Lansing, Ill. – For the first time all season, the MCL Minutemen (1-7) did not play to the level they’ve been accustomed to in recent days. The Northwest Indiana Oilmen (6-3) took full advantage of their off day as they subjected the Minutemen to a mercy-rule defeat, an 11-1 score in seven innings.
“It wasn’t a good game, but these things happen from time to time,” manager Jack Murphy said. “In a 47-game season each team will get blown out and each team will blow somebody else out. It happened to us today, now we just have to move on and turn our attention to our next game.”
Making his first start as an official member of the Indiana Tech baseball program, right-hander Ryan Troxel (Indiana Tech/Valparaiso, Ind.) delivered a good performance in his second Midwest Collegiate League start. In his first five innings on the mound, he held the Oilmen offense in check, permitting just three runs (one earned) to cross home plate. His seven strikeouts are the second-most of any Minutemen starting pitcher.
“Ryan was really good,” Murphy said. “He came out throwing hard, threw strikes, mixed his pitches and his tempo, it was all I could ask for from him. I didn’t see any fear in him or any wavering. I want him throwing like that every time.”
The Minutemen offense did their best to keep Troxel’s efforts from going in vain. Ryan Howe (Purdue/Mount Prospect, Ill.) and Matthew Lelito (Kankakee CC/Merrillville, Ind.) combined to score the team’s lone run in the second inning. A walk and stolen base put Howe on second before advancing on a fly ball to left field. Lelito brought him in on a sacrifice fly to deep center field, missing a home run by a matter of feet.
The two teams remained close through the first five frames, but the wheels came off for the Minutemen in the sixth. Troxel began the inning on the mound and allowed the first three Oilmen batters to reach on a series of tough-luck plays. Two softly hit singles and a full-count walk forced Murphy to turn to his bullpen. He needed two more relievers to cool down an Oilmen offense that turned red hot. They drew seven walks in that inning alone and delivered a crushing blow on a grand slam.
Their eight-run outburst put them ahead by 10, and the three scoreless half-innings that followed triggered an early finish via mercy-rule.
The Minutemen head back to Howie Minas Field in Midlothian, Ill. On Tuesday as they take on the Joliet Generals at 3 p.m. Coming off this loss, Murphy expects his team to return to form and play the way they had in their first seven games.
“This is really the first bad game we’ve had,” Murphy said. “Up to this point, our season has been pretty good. All we have to do is get back to our game and we’ll be in a good spot to win.”
Be sure to tune in on the Joliet Generals Broadcast Network as Alex Coil and Ryan Zimmerman have the call.
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