By: Brandon Vickrey
When the season started, playing in the Midwest Collegiate League All-Star Game was not on the list of summer goals for Columbia University’s Joe Engel.
In fact, the DuPage County Hounds infielder wasn’t even aware that the league had an All-Star Game when the season began.
Not only did Engel receive the honor of starting in the Blue All-Stars’ 10-2 victory over White on Tuesday night at Oil City Stadium, but he accomplished an additional feat by notching three hits to earn the MCL All-Star Game MVP award.
“It was a good group of guys to play with,” Engel said. “It was good competition. I’m glad I could help the team. It’s fun because we’re competing against each other during the season, but when we’re together we all get along.”
The Blue All-Stars were comprised of members of the DuPage County Hounds, Joliet Admirals and Lakers. The Northwest Indiana Oilmen, Southland Vikings and Bloomington Bobcats formed the White All-Stars.
“It’s nice to get players from all the other teams that I’m used to seeing from the other dugout and to have them in our dugout,” Blue All-Stars and Hounds manager Ben Caple said. “We get to understand who they are as people.”
The Blue All-Stars tallied a run in the first inning before pouring on four in the fourth, two in the fifth and three in the sixth. Cody Grosse (Joliet Admirals), Alec Olund (Lakers), Brendan Brundage (Admirals), Mike Roberson (Hounds) and Ryan Schefske (Admirals) had two hits apiece.
Tommy Szczasny (Oilmen) was the lone player on the White All-Stars with a two-hit game.
Seth Rosenberg (Admirals) was awarded the win after pitching a scoreless first inning. Sam Geraci (Oilmen) took the loss after allowing a run on two hits in the opening inning.
The Blue All-Stars received scoreless innings from Rosenberg (Admirals), Casey Young (Lakers), Joey Roberson (Hounds), Chase Lowman (Hounds), Chad Mateja (Lakers) and Tyler Swiggart (Admirals). Tom Jeffries (Admirals), Jordan Miller (Admirals) and Christian Bokich (Hounds) each hurled 2/3 of an inning without allowing a run.
The White All-Stars got an efficient, eight-pitch inning from Mitch Weis (Bobcats) and scoreless frames from Clay Keltner (Oilmen), Kody Silverthorn (Bobcats), Hunter Clark (Oilmen) and Braden Niksich (Oilmen).
The game marked the last hurrah in the Midwest Collegiate League for former Lexington Snipes manager Billy DuBois, who returned to the league for the game after guiding the Snipes to the MCL Championship Series last season.
“It was great seeing the managers,” DuBois said. “The MCL has great managers; I love every one of them. I can tell they miss me as much as I miss them.”
DuBois was decked out in Snipes gear for the game.
“It was a sad day for me and (Snipes equipment manager) Zach (Mason),” DuBois said. “It’s the last time we’ll wear the hat, the last time we’ll wear the jersey. I’m sad right now. Baseball will break your heart, win or lose. You play for a long time, it’s going to break your heart. If you play for a short time, it’s going to break your heart. My heart’s broke right now, but that’s baseball.”
For the rest of the players and coaches involved in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, it’s time to turn attention back to the regular season, which resumes Wednesday. The Hounds are ½ game ahead of the Oilmen for the league lead.
“It’s going to come down to the wire,” Caple said. “It’ll come down to the last day or two as to who gets the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs. Hopefully we’ll be on the right side of things, but you never know. You’ve just got to play good baseball.”
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