07/30/2015 9:33 AM -
July 30, 2015 • 7:10 p.m. • Whiting, Ind.
Radio: AM 1230 WJOB
Internet Broadcast: nwioilmen.com
NWI’s Christian Sullivan (Franklin College / Schererville, Ind.) vs. Michigan City’s Tom Fitzgerald (Australian Baseball Exchange)
Thursday’s game has extreme significance to the Midwest Collegiate League playoff race. If the Oilmen win, they will remain in contention for the league’s No. 2 seed and force a doubleheader with Lexington on Friday at 4 p.m. The Oilmen would still need to sweep the doubleheader to capture home-field advantage for a first-round playoff series. If the Oilmen lose to the Lakers on Thursday, the first game of Friday’s doubleheader would not be played, unless the Vikings sweep a doubleheader from the Hounds on Thursday. Friday night’s game between the Oilmen and Snipes will be played regardless of whether or not it impacts the standings. Thursday’s game is also important for the Lakers. If Michigan City wins, that sets up a winner-take-all game between the Admirals and Lakers for the final playoff spot on Friday. If the Oilmen win, the Admirals clinch the final playoff position.
Inside the Oilmen
Christian Sullivan makes his first start as a member of the Oilmen, becoming the 11th different Oilmen starting pitcher this season. The Lake Central High School product is 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 12 2/3 innings out of the Oilmen bullpen. He has issued five walks and struck out five. This will be Sullivan’s fifth appearance against the Lakers this season. His ERA is 5.40 against Michigan City. Tyler Sroczynski is in position to set the Oilmen single-season batting average record. He’s hitting .389, two points better than the mark set by John Loeffler in 2012. Sroczynski ranks third in the league behind Michigan City’s Joe Kennedy (.425) and DuPage County’s Zac Taylor (.395). Sroczynski and NWI teammate Stefano Belmonte are tied for the league lead in RBIs. In addition, Sroczynski is tied with Billy Miller (2012) and Jordan Lewis (2015) for the Oilmen home run record with three. He’s also two doubles away from matching that Oilmen record of 13 set by Bennett Oliver in 2012.
Inside the Lakers
The Lakers send Tom Fitzgerald to the mound for Thursday’s game. Fitzgerald is in the United States for the summer as part of the Australian Baseball Exchange, along with Lakers infielder Tom Bell. Fitzgerald has a 13.72 ERA in 20 1/3 innings this season. He pitched against the Oilmen once, allowing four runs (two earned) in 2 ½ innings of relief on June 25. The Lakers have a chance to reach to postseason in their first year as an MCL team if they win Thursday and Friday.
About the Matchup
Michigan City has already captured the season series from the Oilmen by winning six of the first eight meetings. Of the 13 MCL victories for the Lakers, 10 have come against the Oilmen or Southland Vikings.
Around the MCL
The Hounds host the Vikings for a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon in Lemont. DuPage County needs to win one game to lock up first place in the Midwest Collegiate League regular season standings.
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