06/18/2018 10:33 PM
Northwest Indiana Oilmen (9-8)
at Southland Vikings (10-3)
June 19, 2018 • 5 p.m. • Chicago Heights, Ill.
Broadcast: Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Facebook Live)
NWI LHP Brandon Hickey (Robert Morris / Monee, Ill.) vs. Southland LHP Anthony Rogers (Concordia / Bolingbrook, Ill.)
The Oilmen enter Tuesday’s game at Southland riding a five-game winning streak, but they’ll look to snap a four-game head-to-head losing streak to the Vikings that dates back to July 21 of last season including an 0-3 record in 2018 meetings. The Oilmen have climbed above .500 for the first time this season after sweeping Crestwood in a doubleheader on Sunday. The 17 games were the longest it has ever taken the Oilmen to climb above the .500 line in a campaign. Southland, the only team in the MCL the Oilmen have not beaten this year, enters Tuesday with a four-game winning streak of its own.
Inside the Oilmen
Nick Figus was named the MCL Player of the Week on Monday for his efforts during a 6-1 week for the Oilmen. He becomes the first NWI player to win an MCL weekly award this season. Figus hit .381 last week highlighted by four hits and a home run in a victory over his former team, the Bloomington Bobcats. He leads the MCL in batting average at .444 and ranks second in on-base percentage at .583. Nate Montgomery ripped his fourth home run of the season in NWI’s come-from-behind win over Crestwood on Sunday in the second game of the doubleheader. That allowed him to move into sole possession of the MCL lead with four home runs, overtaking Joliet’s Jeremiah Lebron (3). The only other players with multiple are Crestwood’s Cole Blatchford and NWI’s Tyler Kenjic, who hit his second on Sunday. On only June 17, Nate Montgomery already moved into sole possession of second in franchise history for home runs in both a single season and in a career. Only Tyler Sroczynski (13, 2015-2017) has more career home runs than Montgomery, and Sroczynski also holds the single-season record with seven in 2016. The Oilmen have 10 home runs in the first 17 games of the season. The franchise record for home runs by the team in a season is 17 in 2015. The Oilmen have already hit more home runs than they did in the 2013 and 2014 seasons and have equaled their home run total from 2012. The Oilmen lead the league with 10 home runs, while the other five teams have 13 combined. Brandon Hickey (0-1, 0.64 ERA) will take the ball for his fourth start of the summer. He has allowed just one earned run in 14 innings while racking up a league-leading 22 strikeouts. He has struck out seven or more in each of his three starts.
Inside the Vikings
Remarkably, Southland’s starting pitcher has hurled a complete-game shutout in three of the last four games. John Hendry started the trend in the 6-0 win over NWI on Wednesday, then Chase Pearce kept it going despite no room for error in a 1-0 win at Joliet on Saturday. Perhaps the most impressive outing of all came on Sunday, when Justin Rios went all nine to shutout first-place DuPage County 5-0 and move the Vikings within a game of the Hounds. Rios struck out six and walked just one while scattering seven hits against an offense that entered the weekend averaging over 10 runs per game. The effort earned Rios the MCL Pitcher of the Week award, making him the second straight Viking to earn the honor. Anthony Rogers (1-0, 3.32 ERA) will look to sustain Southland’s recent pitching prowess on Tuesday.
About the Matchup
With its three wins over the Oilmen this season, Southland has taken a 31-30 lead in the all-time series. Not only have the Oilmen dropped four straight to the Vikings, but they have lost five consecutive games at Hap Bruno Field dating back to July 9, 2016.
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