Minutemen Outgunned in Oil City Shootout

By: Ryan Zimmerman

Whiting, Ind. – On a rainy Saturday night in Whiting, the MCL Minutemen (8-17) and Northwest Indiana Oilmen (18-7) combined to produce a week’s worth of offense. It was the hosts grabbing the result, though, consigning the Minutemen to a 17-11 loss in seven innings.

“We came out hot early on,” manager Jack Murphy said. “We saw the ball well and swung the bat well. After that, they [the Oilmen] just turned it on. When the other team gets hot, there’s nothing you can do to stop them.”

The Minutemen rode the momentum of their recent success at the plate to a hot start. Christian Peña (Eastern Illinois/Davenport, Iowa) led off the game with a single, extending his hit streak to eight games. Mike Bolton (Purdue/Calumet City, Ill.) immediately followed up by drilling his second home run of the season, giving the Minutemen an early 2-0 lead.

After the Oilmen got one back in the bottom of the first, but the Minutemen responded with authority in the second. Ryan Howe (Purdue/Mount Prospect, Ill.) doubled his squad’s run total on a two-run double to deep center field before Patrick Doran (North Carolina Central/Chicago, Ill.) knocked a base hit to plate him. A few batters later, as runners stood on first and second base, Ryan McCoy (Wabash Valley College/Frankfort, Ill.) delivered a no-doubt homer that cleared the right-field wall by 20 feet. By the time the inning ended, the Minutemen held an 8-1 advantage.

“It was good to see the guys stay hot in the [batter’s] box,” Murphy said. “During those first two innings, our approach was as good as it’s been all season. We waited for our pitch and took full advantage when we got it.”

However, their dominance was short lived. The Oilmen chipped away over the course of three innings, reclaiming their edge in the fourth. They generated one tally in the second, three in the third, and six in the fourth. While rain fell over Oil City Stadium and the fate of the contest hung in the balance, the hosts put themselves in pole position to come away with an abbreviated win.

The umpires elected to have the two clubs play on past the official marker of four-and-a-half innings, and the Oilmen took full advantage. Their lineup went back to work, tacking on two more runs to push the score to 13-9.

Once the sixth inning began, the Minutemen hit the comeback trail. Brad Miller (Illinois-Springfield/Oak Forest, Ill.) connected with the second pitch of the inning for his fourth home run of the season. Lukas Broske (Lake Land College/West Bend, Wis.) walked and later scored on a balk, cutting the Oilmen advantage to two at 13-11.

But, as soon as the Minutemen created some momentum, the Oilmen spawned some of their own. A four spot in the bottom half of that frame gave the hosts separation, making it much harder for the Minutemen to answer.

Both offenses were shut down in the seventh inning and only one out was recorded in the eighth before the umpiring crew decided to end proceedings due to inclement weather. The announcement granted the Oilmen the result, their 17th victory in 2020.

“It felt like we got a little too complacent in the last five innings,” Murphy said of the Minutemen’s effort. “You can’t have that mentality against a good hitting team like we did tonight. We had them on the ropes early, but we let them right back in the ballgame and they never let up.”

The Minutemen look to move on this Sunday at 5 p.m. when they head back to Howie Minas Field in Midlothian, Ill. and take on the Joliet Generals. Murphy expects total focus for a full nine innings in order to get back into the win column.

“We just need to play hard until the final out is in the books,” Murphy said. “If we stay locked in and focused for all nine innings, we’re a dangerous bunch.”

Don’t miss a moment of action on the MCL Minutemen Broadcast Network via Facebook Live as Ryan Zimmerman and Alex Coil have the call.

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