midwestcollegiateleague.com


MCL Title Rests on Winner-Take-All Game 3

By: Brandon Vickrey

MONDAY’S GAME:
DuPage County Hounds (21-12, 1-1)
at Northwest Indiana Oilmen (24-11, 1-1)
MCL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 3

Aug. 17, 2020 • 7:10 p.m. • Oil City Stadium • Whiting, Ind.
Broadcast: Oilmen Broadcasting Network (Facebook Live)

The stage is set for a winner-take-all Game 3 of the 2020 Midwest Collegiate League Championship Series after the Northwest Indiana Oilmen bounced back from a Game 1 defeat to beat the DuPage County Hounds 6-1 in Game 2 on Sunday night. The trophy will be in the building as the Oilmen attempt to close out their fourth MCL championship in the franchise’s nine-year existence.

Pitching Matchup – Northwest Indiana RHP Tommy Windt (South Suburban / Orland Park, Ill.) vs. DuPage County LHP Jordan Smevoll (Webster University / Dyer, Ind.)

Game Notes

  • The Oilmen can nail down their first MCL championship since 2018 and fourth overall (2012, 2016) with a win on Monday. The team is making its sixth MCL Championship Series appearance, and this marks just the second time the series has reached a third game. The Oilmen won their only previous winner-take-all game with the MCL crown on the line, beating the Hounds in 2016.
  • Thanks to Sunday’s victory, the Oilmen have won at least one postseason game in eight of their first nine seasons. The last time they had a winless postseason was 2014, when they made a first-round exit after back-to-back losses to DuPage County in Justin Huisman’s final season as manager.
  • The Hounds own a 42-41 lead in an incredibly evenly-matched all-time series that dates back to the first game in franchise history for both squads in 2012. This marks the third time in the last five years these two teams have faced off in the MCL Championship Series with the Oilmen hoisting the trophy in both 2016 and 2018.
  • Mike Madura stole the show on Sunday night as the Munster product and Purdue Fort Wayne right-hander dazzled to the tune of eight shutout innings of two-hit ball while walking two and notching eight strikeouts. He recorded the victory to improve to 10-0 including regular-season and postseason starts over his two seasons with the Oilmen. The team went 12-2 in his 14 starts combined between the 2019 and 2020 regular seasons and postseasons.
  • Madura became the first Oilmen pitcher to go eight innings in any game (regular season or postseason) since Christian Howell did so in the series-clinching Game 2 win over the Hounds in the 2018 finals. Another noteworthy postseason start came when Jordan Petty threw a complete game (allowing one run on six hits) in the Game 3 clincher in the 2016 MCL Championship Series against DuPage County.
  • Madura became the first pitcher in Oilmen history to toss eight or more innings without allowing a run in a postseason start.
  • Tommy Windt has four hits so far in the series to pace the Oilmen, while Angelo Cantelo has driven in a team-high three runs.
  • Windt will start on the mound for the decisive third game on Monday and will oppose the Hounds for the first time this year. The two-way player posted a 2.52 ERA and 0-1 record with two saves over seven games (two starts) during the regular season while walking 13 and striking out 23 in 25 innings. Five of his seven pitching performances came against the Joliet Generals.
  • The Hounds will start a left-hander for the third straight game as they counter with Jordan Smevoll, who worked the ninth inning of Game 1 in this series on Saturday night and permitted a run on two hits. He posted a 1.78 ERA while going 2-0 with three saves during the regular season. Smevoll, who walked nine and struck out 29 in 25 1/3 innings, appeared out of the bullpen for his first six outings but started each of his final two regular-season appearances. He totaled 9 2/3 innings of two-run, five-hit ball over two outings against the Oilmen while walking one and striking out eight.
  • This marks the seventh time in Oilmen history they’ve dropped the first game in a best-of-three postseason series. Just once, the 2019 MCL Semifinals vs. Southland, have the Oilmen stormed back to win the series in three games. They’ve been swept on three occasions and forced a third game only to lose on two others.
  • This marks the fifth time the Hounds have won Game 1 in an MCL postseason series. They have gone on to win the series in each of the other four instances, twice sweeping the series and twice winning in a third game.
  • The Oilmen finished the regular season ranked first in the MCL in team batting average (.270), on-base percentage (.399) and ERA (3.90).
  • The 2020 season marks the latest date on the calendar for an MCL game in the history of the league. The unusual season had its opening day pushed back from Memorial Day Weekend to July 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Oilmen manager Chris Cunningham previously managed in the league and won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014 with Southland before a five-year hiatus from the MCL. He’s seeking his third “straight” title in his last three seasons working in the league.
  • Ben Caple, the 2018 MCL Manager of the Year, is in his fifth season as Hounds skipper and his ninth on the DuPage County coaching staff. He is seeking his first league title as a manager as the last championship for the Hounds came in 2015, the final season under Sean Osborne. 
  • The Oilmen are making their sixth MCL Championship Series appearance after previously reaching the final series in 2012, 2013, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020. This marks the first time in franchise history they’ve reached the final in three consecutive seasons.
  • The Hounds are making their fifth appearance in the MCL Championship Series but they’ve won the title just once over their first eight seasons and are seeking their first league trophy since 2015. The Hounds also reached the Championship Series in 2014, 2016 and 2018, falling to the Oilmen in each of their last two trips.
  • This marks the fifth postseason series between the two teams and the third time (all in the last five years) they’ve faced off with the title on the line. The Oilmen have won three of the first four postseason series, with DuPage County winning a semifinal set back in 2014.
  • The Oilmen beat the Hounds 12-1 in the final regular season meeting last Thursday, locking up their second MCL regular season title and first since 2017. The Oilmen won four of the seven meetings in this year’s regular-season series, winning the head-to-head for the first time since 2017.
  • DuPage County has bounced back nicely from the first losing season in franchise history in 2019. Both of these teams have made the playoffs in each of their nine seasons in existence.
  • All three games in this series have been played at Oil City Stadium. The Hounds had the last at-bats for Game 2, but the Oilmen had last at-bats for Game 1 and will again on Monday night.
  • NWI’s Tyler Nelson finished as the league leader in hits with 42. Nelson also finished as the league leader in RBIs with 29, driving in a run on the final day of the regular season to edge out Ryan Howe of the Minutemen (28). Nelson had three multi-hit outputs in his last four regular-season contests and drove in 10 runs over his final five regular-season games. 

Season Notes

  • The 2020 Oilmen roster features representatives from numerous Division-I institutions including the following conferences: Big 10, American, Ohio Valley Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, Horizon League, Mid-American Conference, Summit League and the ACC.
  • The Big Ten is well represented on this year’s roster, with players from five different conference members on the squad – Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa.
  • This marks the Oilmen’s first season under the direction of Chris Cunningham, who is the fourth manager in team history. Cunningham is no stranger to the MCL, as the former professional ballplayer in the Tampa Bay Rays organization managed the Southland Vikings from 2011-2014. In his final two seasons, the Vikings won back-to-back MCL championships.
  • Oilmen legend Matt Pobereyko is serving as the team’s pitching coach this season. He racked up an MCL-record 18 career saves in 2013 and 2014 including a single-season MCL record 13 in his final campaign with the Oilmen. Pobereyko is an active professional pitcher and has reached as high as Triple-A.
  • As usual, the Oilmen are loaded with local talent. Three Oilmen players graduated from Andrean High School, one from Highland, three from Griffith, one from Valparaiso, two from Munster and two from Lake Central. Expanding to Illinois high schools, two Oilmen competed at Brother Rice, one at Oak Forest, one at Marist, one at Marian Catholic, three at Homewood-Flossmoor, one at Carl Sandburg, one at St. Rita and one at St. Laurence.


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