Late Rally Comes Up Just Short at Oil City Stadium

By: Ryan Zimmerman

Whiting, Ind. – In the fourth contest between these two teams over a seven-day span, the MCL Minutemen (5-13) put together another solid performance against the league-leading Northwest Indiana Oilmen (12-5). Despite a strong late-inning push, the Oilmen once again sent the Minutemen home with a loss, this time by a 7-4 score.

“The guys fought hard all game long,” manager Jack Murphy said. “But we just didn’t get the bats going when we really had to. There were a lot of good at-bats, but they just turned into hard outs, not getting consecutive hits really limited our offense.”

Making his third start against the Oilmen this season, Jacob Frencl (Southeastern CC/Frankfort, Ill.) gave the Minutemen the length they needed. Though he surrendered two three-run innings in the fourth and sixth, he held the opposition lineup in check for the most part. He struck out four in his six innings, leaving four runners on base and faced four batters or less in four different innings.

“Frencl came out very strong again,” Murphy said. “He gave us a chance to get in it, but we didn’t give him any run support. He attacked hitters with every pitch he threw, nothing really fazed him; even when they [the Oilmen] strung a couple of weak hits together. He kept us in it.”

The Minutemen lineup took a while to find the score their first run, as they did so in the seventh inning. Lukas Broske (Lake Land College/West Bend, Wis.) registered a run batted in on a groundout, lowering the Oilmen lead to five at 6-1.

After getting on the board, Cade Turner (Illinois-Springfield/Frankfort, Ill.) took the mound in relief and shut the Oilmen down. In his seventh appearance, third versus the Oilmen, he went another two innings and allowed one hit, once again showing why he’s earned Murphy’s trust.

“Cade’s just been incredible all season,” Murphy said of his young reliever. “He keeps getting the ball over the plate and keeping hitters off-balance. For someone who started pitching only recently, he’s shown a lot of maturity on the mound.”

With that first tally in their back pocket, the Minutemen continued the scoring in the eighth. The first four batters of the inning all reached base without putting the ball in play. Tyler Struck (Murray State College) and Brennan Brogni (Illinois-Springfield/Flagstaff, Ariz.) both drew walks while Ryan Missal (Western Michigan/Lowell, Ind.) and Ryan Howe (Purdue/Mount Prospect, Ill.) were both hit by pitches, the latter doing so for his 11th RBI in 2020. After a wild pitch plated Missal, Christian Peña (Eastern Illinois/Davenport, Iowa) delivered a sacrifice fly to bring Brogni in. By the time the inning was over, the Minutemen only trailed 6-4.

However, the Oilmen struck back in the bottom of the inning. A solo home run with two outs pushed the home team’s lead up to three. One scoreless half-inning later, the Oilmen secured a 7-4 victory.

Despite giving up a long ball, Murphy believes it’s a result of Turner’s consistent strike-throwing and making opponents earn their way on base.

“He’s only given up five earned runs in seven outings, and two have been solo home runs,” Murphy said. “That just tells me that he’s throwing strikes, he’s not throwing walks or giving up back-to-back hits. They need to do damage to get to him, which is going to happen from time to time. It didn’t affect him too much, I’m confident he’ll come out strongly the next time he pitches.”

The Minutemen will not have time to dwell on this loss, as they head to the Old Timer’s Sports Complex at 11 a.m. Saturday to face the Southland Vikings. Be sure to tune into every pitch on the MCL Minutemen Broadcast Network as Ryan Zimmerman and Jack Theil will have the call.

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