By: Ryan Zimmerman
Midlothian, Ill – At long last, the MCL Minutemen (2-7) saw their luck take a turn for the better. As they’ve done throughout the season, they executed their game plan to perfection and this time it resulted in an 8-3 victory over the Joliet Generals (2-6).
“It feels great to see the guys get rewarded for their effort out there,” manager Jack Murphy said of his team. “They’ve worked hard up until this point and have played good baseball, it’s so great to see that finally turn into a win.”
The offense has been the team’s biggest strength thus far in the early going, as Tuesday’s performance proved just how potent it can be. Of their 12 hits, five went for extra bases, including a Brad Miller (Illinois-Springfield/Oak Forest, Ill.) home run which marked the first in team history. In addition, the Minutemen stole five bases, led by a pair from Mike Bolton (Purdue/Calumet City, Ill.). His eight steals pace the Midwest Collegiate League.
“All credit to the team for staying the course,” Murphy said. “They’ve been putting together good at-bats all season long. I’ve been telling them that squaring up the baseball means you’ve beaten the pitcher and outs come from bad luck. Today we were just winning those battles, and when we were on base, we were making things happen and putting pressure on the defense, and that led to more good swings.”
While the lineup fired on all cylinders, Minutemen pitching held their own against the streaking Generals. Cole Anderson (Maryville/Homewood, Ill.) made his second start on the year and held the Generals at bay. In his four innings on the rubber, he permitted just three runs (one earned) to cross home plate on two hits, striking out six in a winning effort.
“Cole looked good right from the start,” Murphy said. “He was going right after hitters and made them react to him. He wasn’t happy when I took him out, but that just means he wants to stay out there and fight. If not for a couple errors that forced him to throw more pitches, he would have gone deep into this game. I’m really happy with the way he pitched today.”
From there, Cade Turner (Illinois-Springfield/Frankfort, Ill.) stole the show. He entered the ballgame with a Joliet baserunner on first and no outs in the bottom of the fifth and never came out. He went five no-hit innings in relief, setting the Minutemen single-game strikeout record in the process with nine. To add to his impressive appearance, Turner did not allow a baserunner until he hit a batter with one out in the eighth. No General made it further than first base.
“I just felt good out there today,” Turner said of his time on the mound. “I just focused on throwing every individual pitch for a strike. We were on a rough stretch these last few games, and I hope I’m able to spark a winning streak.”
While Turner turned in the most notable outing, many Minutemen made their presence felt and contributed to the win. Lukas Broske (Lake Land College/West Bend, Wis.) broke out with two doubles, two runs batted in, and a run scored. Christian Peña (Eastern Illinois/Davenport, Iowa) drove in two more runs and stole two bases. Mike Koszewski (Cincinnati/Oak Brook, Ill.) notched two base hits with one batted in. Bolton added two hits in addition to his two stolen bases including a two-run triple in the fourth inning.
“Everyone in the lineup was swinging the bat well from top to bottom,” Murphy said. “Things just seemed to come together today. They’ve just been doing what they’ve done since the season started and the results are coming.”
The Minutemen cross state lines on Wednesday as they travel to Riverside Park in Hammond, Indiana to take on the DuPage County Hounds at 3 p.m. In order to make it two wins in a row, Murphy expects to keep doing what they’ve been doing.
“We just want to keep the momentum going,” Murphy said. “If we keep playing the same hard aggressive style we’ve been playing all year, we’re going to have a lot of success.”
You can find all the action on the MCL Minutemen Broadcast Network. Thomas Gorski and Ryan Zimmerman will have the call.
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