By: Ryan Zimmerman
Midlothian, Ill. – Though rain poured over Howie Minas Field from the first pitch to the last, the MCL Minutemen (5-10) and Joliet Generals (3-10) still managed to play an official game. For the second consecutive time, though, the Minutemen took care of business, blanking their opponents 6-0 in five innings, marking the first shutout in franchise history.
After a big loss to the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Monday, manager Jack Murphy was more than happy with his team’s response.
“It felt good to watch the guys play well again,” he said. “We played well in every phase of the game. This is one of the best games we’ve played all year, to come back after yesterday and play that well gets me fired up.”
Coming off a rough start against the DuPage County Hounds, Jeremiah Williams (South Suburban College/Calumet City, Ill.) returned to form in his third MCL start. He tossed five shutout innings, scattering just three hits while striking out one. Not only did he earn his second win, Williams also made Minutemen history by recording the team’s first complete game and shutout.
“Jeremiah was lights-out today, nothing fazed him,” Murphy said. “He gave up a few hits, but he maintained his focus and kept attacking hitters. It didn’t matter whether he struck a guy out or allowed a hit, he just continued to fight and pound the zone as if nothing happened.”
On the offensive end, the Minutemen struck early and put the game away late. Malik Peters (Northern Illinois/Calumet City, Ill.) and Ryan Missal (Western Michigan/Lowell, Ind.) both singled to start their team’s first turn at bat and promptly scored. While Missal’s hit scored Peters, he touched home on a Christian Peña (Eastern Illinois/Davenport, Iowa) RBI groundout, giving them a 2-0 after one inning of play.
Following two scoreless frames and continually worsening playing conditions, the bottom of the fourth inning proved the final chance to widen their lead. Knowing that the fifth inning could be the last, the Minutemen took full advantage. Ryan Howe (Purdue/Mount Prospect, Ill.) led off by taking a fastball to the right thigh and did spend much time on the basepaths. The very next batter, Brad Miller (Illinois-Springfield/Oak Forest, Ill.) clubbed his second home run of the season, and second of Generals starting pitcher Jacob Overbeck, over the left-field fence to double his team’s advantage. Matthew Lelito (Kankakee CC/Merrillville, Ind.) wore another heater to his left forearm before Peters chased him in on a triple to straightaway center field. He himself scored on the same play as he was awarded home on an errant throw into the Generals dugout. By the time they finished hitting, the Minutemen led by six with just three outs separating them from victory.
One perfect inning later from Williams, both umpires decided the weather and field conditions were not suitable for playing any further. The Minutemen were awarded a shutout win, their first-ever, giving them three wins in their last five contests.
“I’m happy with our recent form, but now we have to focus on consistency,” Murphy said. “That’s been our biggest struggle; we win one and then come out not as strong the next day. If we want to make a run, we can’t keep doing that. We just have to come out, not worry about what we did the day before, and play as hard as we can every day.”
The Minutemen return to Howie Minas Field on Wednesday to host the Northwest Indiana Oilmen at noon. Be sure to watch the live stream on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen Broadcast Network with Andrew Fish and Ryan Zimmerman on the call.
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