By: Ryan Zimmerman
Midlothian, Ill. – Fresh from a day off, the MCL Minutemen (8-16) looked to get back into the win column Friday against the DuPage County Hounds (16-7). However, opposition arms brought their ace stuff, halting hot Minutemen bats and handing them a 5-1 defeat.
“Offensively, this wasn’t our best effort,” manager Jack Murphy said. “We weren’t taking bad swings nor chasing that much. Unfortunately, we ran into a good pitcher who mixed his pitches as well as anybody. Games like this happen, we just need to bounce back strong.”
As a whole, the Minutemen only strung together four hits and walked four times. Lukas Broske (Lake Land College/West Bend, Wis.) led the way with two, a double and a triple while Ryan Howe (Purdue/Mount Prospect, Ill.) chipped in a two-bagger and Christian Peña (Eastern Illinois/Davenport, Iowa) a single, the latter extending a seven-game hit streak.
Despite taking the loss, Ryan Troxel (Indiana Tech/Valparaiso, Ind.) tossed another excellent start, giving the Minutemen a good chance to win. In his 6 2/3 innings, he allowed only two earned runs (four total) on six hits, striking out five to only two walks, both coming in his final frame. This marks his longest outing of the 2020 season.
“Troxel gave us a heck of a start,” Murphy said. “He just attacked hitters from the start, throwing all of his pitches for strikes, hitting corners, not leaving anything out over the plate. I could tell he was pitching with confidence the whole way, that’s all you can ask for.”
Both offenses got out of the gates slowly until the Hounds opened the scoring in the third inning. A two-out error gave the hosts a free out, and the next batter took full advantage by homering to left field.
Three consecutive scoreless innings followed before the Hounds struck again in the late goings. A two-run single in the seventh and sacrifice fly in the eighth pushed their lead to 5-0, giving the Minutemen just three outs to erase a sizable deficit.
In their final turn at-bat, they came close to doing just that. Walks from Brennan Brogni (Illinois-Springfield/Flagstaff, Ariz.), Ryan Missal (Western Michigan/Lowell, Ind.), and Broske loaded the bases for Matthew Lelito (Kankakee CC/Merrillville, Ind.) to drive in the team’s only run. He was hit by a pitch to record an RBI and send the tying run to the plate. That would be as far as the Minutemen came to drawing level, as a strikeout ended their comeback bid and the game.
The Minutemen head back to Oil City Stadium on Saturday to face the Northwest Indiana Oilmen at 6:10 p.m. Despite the loss, Murphy expects his team to return to the good form they had throughout the week.
“Four out of our last five games, we’ve played really well,” Murphy said. “All we need to do is get back to what we’ve been doing: controlling the zone, taking good swings at good pitches, pitchers going right after hitters, playing good defense. If we do that, we’ll be in a good spot to win.”
Be sure to catch every moment on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen Broadcast Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey and Andrew Fish behind the mic.
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