By: Ryan Zimmerman
Midlothian, Ill. – Coming off a win in their last game, the MCL Minutemen (4-10) could not conjure up a repeat performance in their rematch with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen (10-4). The visitors avenged their blowout loss last Saturday and responded with one of their own, defeating the Minutemen 11-1.
“I just told everyone to put the loss out of their minds,” manager Jack Murphy said. “You’re going to have good days, and you’re going to have bad days in this game. Today was just an off day, we just need to move on.”
Though the final score ended up lopsided, the game remained close through the first seven innings. The Minutemen matched the Oilmen blow-for-blow, but a lack of timely hitting prevented them from securing a lead before the floodgates opened in the final two frames.
“We let the opposing pitcher dictate what was going to happen offensively,” Murphy said. “We just expanded the [strike] zone way too much, took a lot of good pitches to hit and swung at bad ones. The guys just got away from what worked all summer, they’ve been playing well. But if we don’t control the zone like today, bad things happen.”
One of the biggest Minutemen bright spots was the continued consistency from starting pitcher Ryan Troxel (Indiana Tech/Valparaiso, Ind.). His second consecutive five-inning start kept his team in the game, allowing just two runs to score on five hits while striking out six. He departed the game trailing 2-1; his lack of run support led to another tough-luck loss.
“Ryan has awful luck on the mound,” Murphy said of his starter. “He had five really good innings; it took a seeing-eye single for me to pull him in the sixth. He gives us an excellent chance to win every time he takes the mound; his outing was not deserving of the result.”
In Troxel’s relief, Cade Turner (Illinois-Springfield/Frankfort, Ill.) took over in the sixth inning for his sixth appearance of the year. As he’s done all season long, he turned in another quality outing from the bullpen. He specialized in stranding runners on base, stranding seven Oilmen on the basepaths through three innings and permitting only two earned runs to cross home plate.
“This was just another good outing from Cade,” Murphy said. “The only thing I told him today was to keep attacking at the bottom of the lineup, other than that he was phenomenal. He’s been shutting lineups down all season long, and today was no exception.”
Two runs scored off Turner, both on errors, in the top of the eighth, but the Oilmen broke the game open the very next frame due to their plate discipline. Despite only mustering two hits, their four walks, one hit batsman, and two productive outs contributed to a seven-run outburst. By the time the inning was over, they led by double-digits. One quick half-inning later, they reached double-digit wins.
The Minutemen have a quick turnaround as they host the Joliet Generals at noon on Tuesday once again at Howie Minas Field in Midlothian, Ill. Murphy hopes his team will quickly put the loss in the rearview mirror and place their focus squarely on their next opponent.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” Murphy said. “We can hang our heads until midnight, but when the calendar turns over, we just have to forget it and get back to playing our brand of Minutemen baseball.”
You can watch every pitch on the MCL Minutemen Broadcast Network. Ryan Zimmerman and Alex Coil will have the call.
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