07/30/2020 10:04 AM
Southland Vikings (13-10)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (15-7)
July 30, 2020 • 7:10 p.m. • Whiting, Ind. • Oil City Stadium
Broadcast: Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Facebook Live)
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen open another four-game weekend homestand on Thursday by welcoming the Southland Vikings to Oil City Stadium. Each of the last two matchups between the Midwest Collegiate League rivals have resulted in the Oilmen walking off with victories. This marks Northwest Indiana’s first look at a new-look Southland squad that is now under the direction of manager Rocco Mossuto.
Pitching Matchup – Northwest Indiana LHP Connor Oliver (Wichita State / Wabash Valley / Oak Forest, Ill.) vs. Southland LHP Jacob Goss (University of Illinois Springfield / Plainfield, Ill.)
- Oilmen outfielder Kendal Ewell joined an elite club when he enjoyed a two-homer game earlier this week against Joliet. Ewell became the sixth player in Oilmen history with a multi-home run contest, joining a list that also includes Billy Miller (2012), Tyler Sroczynski (twice, 2016), Jake Perreira (2016), Zack Jones (2017) and Joe Rycerz (2019).
- Ewell became the fourth player in the MCL with a multi-homer game this season, joining Jake Schroeder (Southland), Luke Napleton (Southland) and Patrick Doran (Minutemen).
- Andre Demetral has hit safely in six straight games and 12 of his last 13 including three straight multi-hit contests. He has snagged the team lead in batting average at .352 thanks to a stretch that has seen him hit .450 over the last five games.
- Tommy Windt has hit safely in all 14 games he’s played with the Oilmen.
- Clay Thompson leads the MCL with 17 walks and is tied with Dashon Moore for the league lead with nine hit by pitch. The next time he’s hit by a pitch, he’ll become just the fourth player in Oilmen history to reach double figures in that area in a single season, joining Nick Figus (12, 2018), Jake Perreira (10, 2018) and Noah Davis (team-record 17, 2017).
- The Oilmen will seek their third straight victory on Thursday after topping the MCL Minutemen 10-8 on Wednesday. The Minutemen hit three late home runs, but five insurance runs in the top of the ninth proved pivotal as NWI held on for the victory.
- Oilmen starting pitchers have combined for 49 strikeouts and just two walks over the last seven games.
- The Oilmen offense scored nine runs or more and recorded 10 hits or more in each of its three games on this week’s road swing. The team totaled 33 runs over the three games while accumulating 41 hits.
- The Oilmen are 2-1 against Southland this season including walk-off wins at Oil City Stadium on July 11 and July 17. If you thought it couldn’t get any more dramatic than Kendal Ewell’s walk-off double to win 4-3 on July 11, it did just six days later as Nick Anderson’s two-run single in the bottom of the ninth allowed Tyler Nelson to score on a bang-bang play at the plate to beat the Vikings 7-6.
- The Oilmen lead the all-time series with Southland 43-40 and have ended the Vikings’ season in the MCL Semifinal Series each of the last two years.
- Connor Oliver owns a 2.55 ERA over 17 2/3 innings while posting a 1-1 mark over five games and three starts. He has struck out 20 and walked eight. The southpaw’s most recent start came on July 25, when he went 6 2/3 innings and allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out seven and walking none. He will face the Vikings for the first time this season.
- Oliver will be opposed by Southland starter Jacob Goss, who has a 6.63 ERA and 0-2 mark over six games, four starts. He has walked 16 while striking out 14. The lefty last worked on July 23 vs. Joliet and allowed one run on two hits over five frames while receiving no decision. He’ll face the Oilmen for the first time this year.
- 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.