07/02/2020 9:20 PM
MCL Minutemen (0-0)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (0-0)
July 4, 2020 • 6:10 p.m. • Whiting, Ind. • Oil City Stadium
Broadcast: Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Facebook Live); WJOB 1230 AM
The 2020 Northwest Indiana Oilmen season will begin on Saturday night at Oil City Stadium. Independence Day will coincide with the return of America’s pastime as the Oilmen welcome the MCL’s newest team, the Minutemen, to kick off the 2020 slate. The three-time MCL champion Oilmen (2012, 2016, 2018) will begin their quest to continue their tradition of excellence. The team has enjoyed eight consecutive winning seasons and reached eight straight postseasons in its eight years in existence. The MCL, founded in 2010, has had numerous alumni go on to reach the professional ranks, including St. Louis Cardinals All-Star Paul DeJong.
Saturday’s game will be open to fans at a limited capacity of 250. Fans are strongly encouraged to wear facial coverings to the game and numerous other COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place.
Pitching Matchup – Northwest Indiana RHP Jack Guzek (Iowa / Manhattan, Ill.) vs. Minutemen RHP Jacob Frencl (Southeastern / Frankfort, Ill.)
- The 2020 Oilmen roster features representatives from numerous Division-I institutions including the following conferences: Big 10, American, Ohio Valley Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, Horizon League, Mid-American Conference, Summit League and the ACC.
- The Big Ten is well represented on this year’s roster, with players from five different conference members on the squad – Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa.
- Saturday will feature the Oilmen managerial debut of Chris Cunningham, who will become the fourth manager in team history, joining Justin Huisman (2012-2014), Adam Enright (2015-2018) and Kevin Tyrrell (2019). Cunningham is no stranger to the MCL, as the former professional ballplayer in the Tampa Bay Rays organization managed the Southland Vikings from 2011-2014. In his final two seasons, the Vikings won back-to-back MCL championships.
- This marks the fifth time the Oilmen have played on the Fourth of July, and the team is hoping that it’s a happier Independence Day than in year’s past. The Oilmen are 0-4 on the Fourth including a 4-3 exhibition loss to the U.S. Military All-Stars in 2016, the team’s most recent Independence Day showdown. Other July 4 losses include 4-2 to DuPage County in 2012, 7-3 to Southland in 2014 and 7-5 to the Lakers in 11 innings in 2015.
- This marks only the second time in the nine-year history of the team that the Oilmen have opened the season at home. The squad typically travels early on due to Oil City Stadium hosting Indiana High School Athletic Association postseason play in late May. The only prior season opener at home came on May 28, 2014, when the Oilmen topped the Lexington Snipes 2-1.
- Managed by 2014 Wright State graduate and current Lake Land College hitting coach Jack Murphy, the MCL Minutemen will be playing the first game in franchise history on Saturday night. The Minutemen roster features five former Oilmen – Purdue outfielder Mike Bolton Jr. (2019), Northern Illinois infielder Malik Peters (2019), South Suburban RHP Norman Standish (2018), Kirkwood CC RHP Brandon Laux (2019) and Prairie View A&M RHP Tyler Laux (2017, 2019).
- The Minutemen also feature a trio of individuals who played their high school baseball in Northwest Indiana – 2017 Lowell graduate Ryan Missal (Western Michigan), 2019 Andrean graduate Matthew Lelito (Kankakee CC) and 2019 Valparaiso graduate Ryan Troxel (Saint Xavier).
- As usual, the Oilmen are loaded with local talent. Three Oilmen players graduated from Andrean High School, one from Highland, three from Griffith, one from Valparaiso, one from Chesterton, two from Munster and two from Lake Central. Expanding to Illinois high schools, two Oilmen competed at Brother Rice, one at Oak Forest, one at Marist, one at Marian Catholic, three at Homewood-Flossmoor, one at Carl Sandburg, one at St. Rita and one at St. Laurence.
- Guzek is back with the Oilmen after winning the MCL Pitcher of the Week honor twice in the first three weeks of the season a year ago. He started three games and totaled 17 innings last season with the Oilmen, pitching at least into the sixth on each occasion. He racked up 26 strikeouts and posted an ERA in 3.18 ERA while yielding 15 hits. He joins the list of Oilmen opening night starting pitchers that includes Johnny Vesevick (2019), Christian Howell (2018), Richard Yelnick (2017), Max Siedlecki (2016), Keith Mahler (2015), Jimmy McNamara (2014), Michael Steensen (2013) and Tait Rauen (2012).
- When they appear in their first games this season, Tommy Farrell and Max Franklin will become the third and fourth players in team history to appear in four different seasons. That elite group currently consists of catcher Zack Jones (2014-2017) and pitcher Christian Howell (2015-2018).
- The Oilmen are 3-5 all-time in both season openers and home openers.