05/29/2018 8:57 PM -
Bloomington, Ill. – May 29, 2018 – A Bloomington Bobcats team has become known its pitching prowess in the MCL lived up to its reputation on Tuesday night at Jack Horenberger Field in Bloomington.
After leading the MCL in team ERA in 2017, the Bobcats started their 2018 campaign with a strong pitching performance against the Oilmen. Right-hander Nick Brune hurled seven shutout innings, holding NWI to two hits and issuing only one walk. Brune eventually picked up the win as the Bobcats blanked the Oilmen 5-0.
“Brune had really good late arm-side run on his fastball,” Oilmen manager Adam Enright said. “He mixed in a good slider on top of his fastball. Everything comes out looking exactly the same. When you’re pitching in that twilight time of day and the sun is going down, it’s really hard to pick up. There were lots of swings and misses and guys couldn’t pick up the spin it had on it. He did a really good job mixing those two pitches and getting guys out early in innings.”
The Oilmen (1-1) were limited to just three hits after having five on opening night at Crestwood. Jackson Dvorak (South Suburban / New Lenox, Ill.) has been NWI’s most consistent bat, turning in back-to-back two-hit outputs to begin the summer campaign.
“Some of these guys haven’t played a whole lot this year, and some of them haven’t played in three weeks or so,” Enright said. “None of them have played with wooden bats. It’s always going to be a struggle early to string together tons of hits. Getting in the grove of starting to take BP pregame and getting a little bit more work on the field, which we weren’t able to do that last two days, is going to pay off as we get into late June. It’s all about getting reps and at-bats and getting comfortable playing every day and playing with a wood bat.”
Brandon Hickey (Robert Morris / Monee, Ill.) threw 82 pitches over four scoreless frames, striking out seven while in a strong Oilmen debut, which resulted in a no decision. The game was scoreless at the time of his departure.
“His outing was par for the course for him,” Enright said. “He gets really deep in a lot of counts. The first two innings he was trying to get a feel for his curveball and changeup, and that’s pretty common for him. He pitched inside effectively and worked both sides of the plate. He was good enough to get through four without giving up a run. He hadn’t started since the first week of May, so I didn’t want to stretch him out any more.”
The Bobcats (1-0) did damage against the Oilmen bullpen, scoring two runs (one earned) against Norman Standish (South Suburban / Highland) in the fifth before Nick Wolf (McHenry County / Valparaiso, Ind.) allowed three runs in the sixth. The Oilmen debut of Connor Spear (Wisconsin Whitewater / Highland, Ind.) was a success, as he heaved two scoreless frames and did not permit a hit.
NWI loaded the bases in the top of the ninth, but Bloomington’s Rhett Rapshus escaped, keeping the shutout intact.
The Oilmen will be back in action on Wednesday at DuPage County in a game that begins at 5 p.m. CT at the Lemont Sports Complex. Brandon Vickrey and Dan Harty will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcasting Network, available via Facebook Live on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen Facebook page.
To view the box score, click here.