08/02/2015 10:51 PM -
August 3, 2015 • 7:10 p.m. • Whiting, Ind.
Radio: AM 1230 WJOB
Internet Broadcast: nwioilmen.com
NWI’s Brandon Murray (South Carolina / Hobart, Ind.) vs. Lexington’s Ross Learnard (Parkland)
There have been 185 games in the four-year history of the Northwest Indiana Oilmen, but none have had stakes quite as high as the one that will take place on Monday night at Oil City Stadium. For the first time in team history, the Oilmen will partake in a decisive Game 3 in a best-of-three playoff series. The Snipes clubbed the Oilmen 11-4 on Saturday in Whiting, but the Oilmen responded to erase a two-run, seventh-inning deficit and edge the Snipes 5-4 on Sunday at High Desert Field. Lexington stranded the potential tying run on second base in the ninth.
Inside the Oilmen
After batting a smidge under .400 in the regular season, Tyler Sroczynski hasn’t missed a beat since the calendar flipped to August. He is 4-for-8 and has a .600 on-base percentage in this series. Josh Turnock (3-for-6), Sam Geraci (3-for-7) and Fred Smart (3-for-8, 3 RBIs) are also off to strong starts to the series. Since Christian Howell was used out of the bullpen on Saturday and Sunday, the Oilmen will depend on Hobart graduate and South Carolina right-hander Brandon Murray to start Monday’s Game 3. Murray has made four starts since joining the Oilmen midseason and holds a 6.70 ERA. He has issued 16 walks and hit five batters in only 15 2/3 innings. In his most recent start, Murray (1-2) allowed six runs (five earned) on two hits, eight walks and two hit batters in 2 2/3 innings at Michigan City on July 26. Murray has not faced the Snipes yet this season.
Inside the Snipes
Parkland left-hander Ross Learnard gets the ball from manager Billy DuBois for Monday’s game. He faced the Oilmen once this season, yielding one run on five hits in six innings on July 12 to pick up the win. Learnard went 4-2 with a 3.75 ERA in 36 innings during the regular season, issuing 12 walks and striking out 28. Neil Tyrell (4-for-10), Cully Day (3-for-8) and Jared McCunn (3-for-8) have been Lexington’s most productive players in the series. The Snipes are hitting .324 as a team through the first two games. DuBois will return to the dugout for Monday’s game. He was suspended for Sunday’s Game 2 after being ejected from the series opener on Saturday night.
Around the MCL
After all three postseason series resulted in sweeps for three consecutive years, both MCL first-round sets hinge on Game 3 this season. In the league’s history, which dates back to 2010, no team has ever come back to win a series after losing the opening game. Both the Oilmen and Hounds are attempting to accomplish that feat on Monday night. The Hounds stayed alive with a come-from-behind 4-3 victory in Joliet on Sunday. DuPage County scored four times in the eighth inning, with all of the runs charged to reliever Yianni Pavlopoulos, who failed to record an out. The Admirals allowed seven shutout innings from starter Nick Allgeyer to go to waste. Joliet scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to make it a one-run game, but stranded the tying run at third. DuPage starter Nick Alfini threw 8 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits to get the win. Game 3 between the Hounds and Admirals will take place on Monday at 5 p.m. at the Lemont Sports Complex.
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