07/23/2016 11:26 AM
Southland Vikings (16-23)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (24-19)
July 23, 2016 • 7:20 p.m. • Whiting, Ind.
Radio: Online Only, NWIOilmen.com (7 p.m. pregame)
NWI’s Richard Yelnick (Trinity Christian / New Lenox, Ill.) vs. Southland’s Austin Loehman (College of DuPage / Westmont, Ill.)
Only eight games remain in the regular season, and the top three teams in the MCL could still finish in any order. Joliet currently leads the league, but DuPage County is just one game off the pace and the Oilmen are 1 ½ games behind the Admirals. The Admirals visit the Hounds on Saturday afternoon, so the Oilmen are guaranteed to gain one game on the loser if they beat Southland and lose one game on the winner if they fall to the Vikings. The Oilmen are trying to rebound from a 5-3 loss to the Hounds on Friday night, when they grounded into three inning-ending double plays in key situations.
Inside the Oilmen
Tyler Sroczynski tied the Midwest Collegiate League home run record by launching his sixth and seventh round trippers of the season on Friday. He joins Adam Casson (Lexington 2014), Gary Mayberry (DuPage 2012) and Joey Burney (DeKalb 2012) as the three players who have belted seven home runs in a single MCL season. With one more home run, Sroczynski would stand all alone as the MCL record-holder. There have been four two-homer games in the MCL this season – two by Sroczynski, one by Oilmen catcher Jake Perreira and one by DuPage’s Tyler Tesmond. The Oilmen have had three two-homer games this year after having only one (Billy Miller in 2012) in the franchise’s first four seasons. Sroczynski alone has more home runs than the entire Southland, Bloomington and Joliet teams combined. As a team, the Oilmen lead the league with 15 home runs. The Oilmen have 62 stolen bases this season, tied with Joliet for second in the MCL, well behind DuPage’s 99. Tommy Szczasny turned in his fifth three-hit game of the summer on Friday. Chris Baker worked two more walks on Friday and now has 14 in his last 10 games. His 28 walks lead the league and he’s two away from matching the Oilmen single-season record. Oilmen starter Richard Yelnick is 2-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 34 innings this season. He has issued 12 walks and struck out 30. Yelnick allowed five earned runs on nine hits in six innings to take the loss in his most recent outing on Sunday. He has thrown five shutout innings against the Vikings this season over two appearances.
Inside the Vikings
Southland finds itself fighting for its playoff life over the final week of the regular season. After winning the MCL in 2013 and 2014, the Vikings missed the playoffs in 2015 and are looking to get back to the postseason this year. They have lost four straight games and are now 1 ½ games behind Bloomington for the final playoff spot. The Vikings couldn’t recover from a slow start on Friday and fell to the Lakers 10-4. An Oilmen win on Saturday would drop the Vikings into a tie for the fifth with the Lakers. It’s a big weekend for Southland as they play a pivotal doubleheader at Bloomington on Sunday. Austin Loehman makes his second start after taking the loss despite allowing just two runs in five innings against the Lakers on July 1.
About the Matchup
This marks the final time the Vikings will visit Oil City Stadium in the regular season. The two teams will face off once more on July 30 at Hap Bruno Field. The Oilmen lead the season series 6-5 after a lightening-shortened 6-2 win on Thursday. A win on Saturday would allow the Oilmen to secure the season series against the Vikings. The Oilmen have already won the season series against the Lakers and lost to the Bobcats, but the season sets with Southland, DuPage and Joliet are all still hanging in the balance.
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