07/17/2020 9:34 AM
Southland Vikings (9-4)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (8-3)
July 17, 2020 • 7:10 p.m. • Whiting, Ind. • Oil City Stadium
Broadcast: Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Facebook Live)
The top spot in the Midwest Collegiate League is up for grabs as the Northwest Indiana Oilmen and Southland Vikings renew the league’s biggest rivalry on Friday night at Oil City Stadium. There’s all the more reason to come out to the yard as fans can consume $2 pint beers at the stadium concession stand. The Oilmen, Hounds and Vikings enter Friday night in a virtual three-way tie atop the MCL standings, with the Oilmen and Hounds in an exact tie and the Vikings percentage points behind.
Pitching Matchup – Northwest Indiana RHP Costa Sirounis (Indiana / Munster, Ind.) vs. Southland RHP Jake Karaba (Lewis / Naperville, Ill.)
- The Oilmen pitching staff continued its dominance, lowering the team ERA to 2.08 after another glowing showing on Thursday night. DuPage County is a distant second in the MCL with a 4.16 ERA, and the other four squads all have ERAs over five. There’s a long way to go this season, but for perspective, the Oilmen team record for ERA in a single season is 3.10 in 2014.
- The Oilmen and Vikings have split the first two meetings this season, with Kendal Ewell delivering a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth to allow NWI to capture the most recent matchup 4-3 on July 11. The Oilmen own a slim 42-40 lead in the all-time series, which includes postseason meetings in the 2013 MCL Championship, 2018 MCL Semifinals and 2019 MCL Semifinals.
- The Vikings will again send Jake Karaba to the mound at Oil City Stadium. The reigning MCL Pitcher of the Week has notched an eye-popping 19 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings while yielding just two earned runs on five hits and four walks. He fanned nine over five plus innings while permitting three hits and two runs on July 11 at NWI.
- Costa Sirounis gets the start for the Oilmen for the second time this summer. He allowed two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out five in his first outing, a no decision on July 10 against Crestwood.
- Kendal Ewell picked up his third outfield assist from right field this season on Thursday, cutting down a DuPage County runner who was attempting to stretch a double into a triple with a strong throw on a 9-6-5 relay. Tommy Windt spanked a clutch two-run, two-out double in the bottom of the eighth to deliver the key hit of the game.
- Oilmen pitching has limited the opposition to fewer than five runs in nine of the 11 games this season and three runs or fewer in eight of the 11. The team is riding a three-game winning streak and has allowed two runs or fewer in each of those victories.
- If the Oilmen can win and extend their winning streak to four, it would mark their longest such streak since rapping off five in a row from July 6-11 last season.
- 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.
- This marks the Oilmen’s first season under the direction of Chris Cunningham, who is the fourth manager in team history. 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.
- Oilmen legend Matt Pobereyko is serving as the team’s pitching coach this season. He racked up an MCL-record 18 career saves in 2013 and 2014 including a single-season MCL record 13 in his final campaign with the Oilmen. Pobereyko is an active professional pitcher and has reached as high as Triple-A.
- 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, 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.