By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – Aug. 16, 2020 – Mike Madura (Purdue Fort Wayne / Munster, Ind.) delivered a pitching performance that will live in Northwest Indiana Oilmen lore on Monday night at Oil City Stadium.
Facing a must-win situation, the Oilmen topped the DuPage County Hounds 6-1 behind eight dazzling innings from Madura, who yielded no runs on just two hits and two walks while striking out eight. He picked up the victory to improve to 10-0 in his two-year Oilmen career counting both regular-season and postseason games.
“I was able to execute pitches, and Angelo (Cantelo) did a great job behind the plate calling the game,” Madura said. “I was following his lead and trusting what he was putting down. The first pitch I shook off was a single to center for their first hit of the game, so after that I told Angelo that I’d follow his lead from then on out. I approached this the same as every game even though there were higher stakes. When you go out there and execute pitches, good things happen.”
Madura regularly gives his team a chance to win, as the Oilmen are 12-2 in his 14 starts over the last two seasons. However, he took it to a new level on Sunday, silencing a potent Hounds lineup that had produced eight runs in the series opener.
“It was an incredible performance,” Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham said. “He had great command of all three pitches. It was an excellent outing that was super impressive. His ability to get through eight helps our staff out. You can’t say enough about Mike Madura. He’s been a workhorse all year. That’s an absolute gutsy performance. It was an unbelievable outing.”
The Oilmen offense scored early and often, produced single tallies in each of the first two innings before scoring a pair in the third and fourth frames. The first inning started modestly with two outs and nobody on base, but Tyler Nelson (Indiana / Munster, Ind.) singled, stole second and scampered home on a run-scoring single by Angelo Cantelo (Lewis / Blue Island, Ill.).
“We had some timely hitting and played really good defense today,” Cunningham said. “When you throw strikes like Mike did, it keeps your defense invested in the game. We played good defense behind him and good things happened.”
Tommy Windt (South Suburban / Orland Park, Ill.) ripped a run-scoring single in the fourth to extend the lead to 6-0, completing a two-hit day. Cantelo also notched two hits and drove in a pair as the Oilmen pushed across six runs on just six hits.
The Oilmen were aggressive on the bases as Nelson had a pair of steals and the team had runners in motion in several other instances.
“We had nothing to lose, so we were aggressive,” Cunningham said. “We had base stealers on base, so that made things a little easier. It was a good, solid baseball game. It was well played all around, so hopefully we can come out and get some good pitching tomorrow so we can do it again.”
But it all started with Madura, whose 99-pitch masterpiece helped the Oilmen preserve a thin pitching staff for a decisive third game on Monday night.
“I was aware of where we are at in terms of the number of pitchers still with the team, so I knew I’d have to keep my pitch count low and get a number of ground-ball outs,” Madura said. “That’s what I tried to do. It was an awesome season; I really enjoy playing for the Oilmen and hope we can come out tomorrow and get a championship. Last year, we lost in two, and that stung, so maybe we’ll get the title this time.”
The series finale will start at 7:10 p.m. as the Oilmen attempt to capture their fourth MCL title on Monday. Tickets are available on NWIOilmen.com, and those who cannot attend and watch on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey and Andrew Fish on the call.
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