Oilmen Program Issue 8

Page 1

Official Game Day Program

Week of July 14, 2014


Vol 1., Issue 8

Ticket sales benefited Bryce Nowakowski, son of Calumet College of St. Joseph head baseball coach Brian, during the MCL AllStar Game. PAGE 2

VENGA A CELEBRAR LA HERENCIA LATINA The Northwest Indiana CON EL ORGULLO DE NORTH WEST INDIANA Oilmen plan a fiesta on July 20 to celebrate Latin heritage in the region. PAGE 4

Ron Kittle will be holding a kids baseball camp on July 21 to help young players sharpen their baseball skills. PAGE 3

Whiting’s annual Pierogi Fest will be held July 25, 26, and 27 on 119th Street. PAGE 39



SHOWCASING THE LEAGUE’S BEST TALENTS Through the first half of the Midwest Collegiate By Brandon Vickrey League season, few opposing pitchers have found success against the Southland Vikings. Fittingly, it was the Southland hitters that played a critical role in lifting the South to a 10-3 victory over the North in Wednesday’s Midwest Collegiate League All-Star Game at Oil City Stadium. Ironically, the first home run hit by a player on the home team at Oil City Stadium this season came off the bat of Vikings slugger Jeff Boehm. The University of Illinois-Chicago Flame infielder cracked a two-run homer in the first inning to help the South jump out to a 3-0 lead. Boehm’s blow over the left-field wall allowed him to garner the 2014 MCL All-Star Game Most Valuable Player award. “I was thinking with a guy on first, he was going to try to get me to roll over on something off speed,” Boehm said. “I stayed through it, recognized it and drove it over the wall. It was really exciting, especially with it being my first AB.” Boehm’s family looked on as he started his night by circling the bases in the first inning and finished the game by receiving MVP honors. Although the game did not count in the league standings, a competitive vibe surrounded the South squad after the victory. “It feels good to come out here and play a game,” Boehm said. “We’re all ballplayers, so it’s fun to play a game. We’re trying to win. Every guy comes out here trying to win; we’re not trying to lollygag and play mediocre. We’re coming out here to play ball and give it our best.” Southland’s Bobby Sheppard clubbed a first-inning double and scored the first run of the game on a single by Lexington’s Eric Phillis. Sheppard reentered the game in the seventh and rapped another double. South manager Chris Cunningham, who is the skipper for the Vikings, was pleased with the effort he saw from the Southland players. “They played hard,” Cunningham said. “That’s all I really ask from them, to play hard and respect the game. You play every inning like it’s your last.” Northwest Indiana left-hander Jimmy McNamara (Central Michigan) made the start and pitched the first inning, walking one before working out of the frame unscathed. Southland’s Brandon White (Hill College) was credited with the win, retiring the side in order in the second inning. Joliet’s Quinn Ahern took the loss, allowing three runs in his only inning. Bobby Smith of the Chicago Zephyrs led the way for the North team, posting three hits. For the South, the No. 8 slot in the batting order was the team’s most productive as catchers Jake Capko (Lexington) and Alex Lugo (Southland) combined to reach base four times. A large crowd was on hand to witness the game and help support the family of Bryce Nowakowski, the son of Calumet College of St. Joseph head baseball coach Brian Nowakowski. Bryce was born with a rare heart defect and is in need of a heart transplant. Fifty percent of all ticket revenue was donated to the Nowakowski family. “It was a very good crowd,” Cunningham said. “Everyone was into it, in typical Whiting fashion. They do a great job here.”

(Above) Ryan Burvan bats during the MCL All-Star Game.

(Left) Matt Pobereyko fires a pitch during on July 9. (Bottom) Infielder Nate Schneider bats against the North All-Stars.



AT OIL CITY STADIUM SCOUT NIGHT FRIDAY, JULY 18 7:10 PM By David Bork Come out to the ballpark on Friday, July 18 to celebrate the first-ever Scout Night hosted by the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. All Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are encouraged to wear their scout uniform out to the stadium. All Cub Scouts that come out to the game will receive free admission to the game as the Oilmen host the Lexington Snipes. The Oilmen will have discounted ticket prices for kids who wear their scout uniform to the ballpark. Admission for all boy scouts will be $4. The 18th is also Family Friday at the ballpark sponsored by BP Whiting. All kids age 12 and under receive free admission to all Friday home games.



By Brandon Vickrey The annual Ron Kittle Kids Camp is set to return to Oil City Stadium on Monday, July 21 as the Northwest Indiana Oilmen give local youngsters a chance to gain valuable baseball instruction from the former big league star. The camp is sponsored by BP Whiting. The free camp will last from 9 a.m. to noon and is open to all children ages 12 and under. In addition to honing their skills on the diamond, kids will have a chance to meet Ron Kittle and team mascot Oilman Stan. All participants will receive two free tickets to an Oilmen home game. Kittle, an Oilmen co-owner, was born in Gary, where he enjoyed a successful prep career at William A. Wirt High School. He made his big league debut with the White Sox on Sept. 2, 1982. Kittle made an immediate impact in his first full season with the White Sox, helping the team to 99 wins and their first playoff appearance since 1959 during the 1983 campaign. He batted .254, launched 35 home runs and drove in 100 runs, earning his way onto the American League All-Star team and capturing the 1983 AL Rookie of the Year Award. The free children’s clinic provides the Northwest Indiana Oilmen with an opportunity to thank the supporters that cheer them on throughout the season. Please reserve your spot by emailing kidscamp@nwioilmen.com. BP Whiting is also the presenting sponsor of every Friday home game, when all kids 12 and under receive free admission as part of the Family Fridays promotion. The Oilmen have one Family Fridays remaining in the 2014 season as they host the Lexington Snipes on July 18.

FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT WEDNESDAY, JULY 23 7:10 PM On July 23, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen will celebrate Fan Appreciation Night. C.S.R.I By Elizabeth Biancardi of Northwest Indiana invites those with special needs of all ages to the ballpark for a night of entertainment. Tickets are half price, meaning adults are only $4 and children 12 & under are only $2. The game will also feature entertainment by the Zooperstars, a hilarious act that you can’t miss!



JULY 2O - 4:00 PM Northwest Indiana is a rich melting pot of people with very diverse cultures. These people can trace their roots to all corners of the world. One of the largest of these cultural groups that call Northwest Indiana home is the Latino community, representing over 12 percent of the total population. The Latino population of Northwest Indiana represents over one quarter of the total Latino population of the entire state of Indiana. This 12 percent of the population is a rich melting pot within itself, comprised of the rich cultures of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, The Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and many other Latino countries in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Noche Latina will be a celebration of not only all the Latino cultures represented in Northwest Indiana, but all Latino cultures and heritages found worldwide. This celebration will include performances by Mariachi Infantil Santa Maria of Saint Mary’s Church in East Chicago, Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo, Latino music all evening, and of course for the main attraction, an exciting game of Oilmen baseball versus the Zephyrs.

By Vincent Medina

On July 12, before the baseball game, Mariachi Infantil Santa Maria of Saint Mary’s Church in East Chicago will play traditional mariachi music.

Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo will perform traditional Latin dances on the concourse at Oil City Stadium for Noche Latina.



WEEK OF JULY 7, 2014

The Northwest Indiana Oilmen, who were struggling entering this past week, got on the right track before the All-Star Break. The Oilmen had four games the week before, winning only one of those games with all three losses coming to rival Southland. The Oilmen faced off against the Chicago Zephyrs to end the first half of the season and the Oilmen defeated the Zephyrs by the score of 8-0. The Oilmen got six strong innings from starter Danny Pobereyko, who did not allow a run and struck out 10. Andrew Jackson, Kevin Jones and Anthony Gomez all pitched scoreless innings to keep the Zephyrs off the board. “In my last outing, I gave up a lot of hard hits on a lot of fastballs up and in. I try to keep everything down,” Pobereyko said. In the All-Star Game, eight of the Oilmen all made key contributions for the South All-Stars to defeat the North All-Stars 10-3. The Oilmen had a game Friday night with the team that was tied with the Oilmen for third place, the Lexington Snipes. The Oilmen were 3-1 against the Snipes this season entering Friday’s game. Nick Nauracy was on the mound Friday as he opposed North All-Star Brett Fanning. Nauracy had one win and one loss against the Snipes this season. He was going into the game hoping to put the first half of the season behind him and come out strong for the second half. Nauracy went 2-2 with a 7.17 ERA in the first half of the season By David Bork

Brodie Meyer slides into the plate, making his first start as a member of the Oilmen after missing the beginning of the season with an injury.

while striking out 29. Nauracy was locked in from the start of the game, until he ran into trouble in the sixth getting the first two guys out before giving up a double to Eric Phillis and an RBI single to Adam Casson. The Oilmen were able to get that run right back in the bottom of the sixth as Andrew Ray hit his second home run of the season and the first Oilmen home run in Oil City Stadium. Ray, who has been struggling this season batting .166, is hoping for a better second half as well. Gomez came in and pitched the eighth inning for the Oilmen to get the hold and pitched a scoreless frame. The Oilmen led 4-1 heading into the ninth inning, so it was a save situation for Oilmen closer and South All-Star Matt Pobereyko for the first time since he picked up the save on June 23 against the Southland Vikings. Pobereyko got a quick strikeout to start the frame before giving up a single to Jeff Cardenas. Then, he struck out Jake Capko and Ryan Frye to end the game and pick up his ninth save of the season. The Oilmen entered the All-Star Break with a 14-9 record in the MCL and 16-10 overall, and started out the second half of the season with a win over the Lexington Snipes. With the win, the Oilmen took over sole possession of third place. The Oilmen trail the first-place DuPage County Hounds by three games and the Southland Vikings by one game. The Oilmen have 17 games left to play in the season, including four games with the Hounds and three with the Vikings.

Anthony Gomez pitches a scoreless eight inning before Matt Pobereyko struck out the side in the ninth on July 11.



Take one glance at the statistical line of Oilmen right-handed pitcher Scott Jerge, and the improvement from 2013 to 2014 is evident. After posting a 6.75 ERA in eight games last summer, Jerge is among the most improved players in the Midwest Collegiate League, with an ERA of 1.92 through his first eight appearances this season. He has displayed much better control, issuing five walks this year after totaling 11 bases on balls in 15 2/3 innings a year ago. “The biggest difference right now is that I’m going right after guys,” Jerge said. “I’m throwing every pitch I have for strikes in any count, compared to last year, where I was pitching around guys and not going after them. I think that’s the biggest difference right now, going right after hitters.” Jerge has been a swingman for the Oilmen, working as a spot starter and in long relief. With the team in the midst of a busy stretch of baseball to close the regular season, Jerge will fill an even more important role than he did through the first half of the summer. The Valparaiso University right-hander has had no trouble pitching in relief or starting games. He was effective in each of his first two starts of the year, going three scoreless innings on June 17 against Michigan City before allowing one run over five frames against Joliet on June 26. “Coming out of the bullpen has been in the fifth inning or sixth inning and it’s usually been long relief, so that’s the same feel as starting a game,” Jerge said. By Brandon Vickrey



Jerge, a Munster graduate, is a member of the all-local Oilmen bullpen clique. The group is comprised of fellow Munster alum Anthony Gomez, Bishop Noll graduate and bullpen elder statesman Matt Pobereyko, Whiting’s Andrew Lowe, Kankakee Valley’s Andrew Jackson, Portage’s Kevin Jones and Lake Central’s Aaron Glatt. “Out of the bullpen, we have a bunch of guys that are from the area hanging out and talking,” Jerge said. “I think that’s the biggest difference between this year and last year, not too many kids from the area were on last year’s team.” Since relief pitchers are typically not called upon until the sixth inning or later, members of the Oilmen bullpen spend the first five innings chatting and watching the game. “We’re always into the game,” Jerge said. “We try to get in the opposing team’s heads, whether it’s the right fielder or the center fielder. We help the umps out and try to change their minds. We’re always involved in the game, that’s big. We watch the game and see the hitters’ approaches.” One of Jerge’s goals for the duration of the season is to improve on putting hitters away once he gains an 0-2 or 1-2 advantage in the count. He knows the high-caliber of hitting in the MCL will continue to make each appearance on the mound a challenge. “It’s always competitive,” Jerge said. “Especially with the Vikings of late, it’s tough pitching against them. Every pitch counts, every pitch matters. It’s something I need to work on because last year I would take pitches off.”

By Joey Gelman James Meeker is starting to come into his own in his first year with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. The Akron Zips third baseman is hitting .247 on the year, going 2-for4 in a breakout game against the Lexington Snipes where he also drove in two runs on July 11. While players can have a host of summer jobs and commitments, Meeker says “nothing beats playing baseball in the summer.” While there are differing views across the team, Meeker sees summer baseball as necessary opportunity to fix parts of his game. While his first goal was to gain weight for next season, there are also tactical changes he is hoping to adjust, and believes he is on the right track to do so. “I wanted to try to work on attacking first-pitch fastballs, and not getting behind in the count,” Meeker said. “And I think I have done an alright job with that… [but] it’s not going to change overnight.” A big difference from college baseball is the fact that the Midwest Collegiate League uses wooden bats instead of metal, which has been an adjustment for Meeker. However, because Meeker was a pitcher back at North Allegheny High School, it gives him a better approach at the plate, because he knows the strike zone from a pitcher’s perspective. “I definitely think it helps you a little bit,” Meeker



said. “You just think what you would be throwing out there to get the batter to feel uncomfortable, so I guess it helps you predict what the pitcher is trying to get you out with.” Meeker is staying with teammates Nate Schneider, Nick Vogelmeier and Cameron Linck in an apartment in Whiting on 119th Street for the summer. Unlike many of his teammates, he is not from Northwest Indiana. Meeker is a Wexford, Pennsylvania native, plays his college baseball in Akron, Ohio, and summer ball in Whiting, Indiana. While he likes his time in Whiting so far, it has been a new challenge for him. “It’s my first time away from home for a long period,” Meeker said. “But I think it is pretty cool just going out there and experiencing new things and meeting new people; it’s been a lot of fun.” Meeker also mentioned that he has enjoyed the community mentality in Whiting as well. “It’s a pretty cool place,” Meeker said. “It seems like everyone knows each other, and they all help out for each other. We’ve gotten some pretty good crowds at the games… it’s a neat town.” Meeker is looking forward to the second half and playoff push for the remainder of the season with the Oilmen. He is also proud to continue the tradition of the Akron Zips and the Oilmen, being the fifth Akron player to dawn the black and gold in two years.

39 By David Bork Keith Mahler, Highland High School graduate and pitcher from Heartland Community College, wants to show what he can do in his first season with the Oilmen. Mahler has been playing the game of baseball for 14 years and plans to continue to play baseball going forward. Mahler is known for the three pitches he has thrown since high school: a changeup, a slider and a fastball that reaches 92 miles per hour. Mahler posted a perfect record his senior season at Highland High School in a tough conference in the Northwest Crossroads Conference with schools like Andrean, Hobart, Lowell and Munster. Mahler is hoping to get on the right track pitching-wise after an arm injury sidelined him from playing baseball at Heartland Community College his freshman year in college. After Mahler’s freshman year was lost to an injury, he had a lot to think about and had to think about what he would do without baseball to focus on. Mahler decided it was time to enroll back to school at Heartland Community College and focus on academics. He got a phone call from Heartland coach Nate Metzger asking him if he would come out and play baseball for the Hawks again. “I thought about it and made my mind up to continue to play, Mahler said. “I had confidence in

myself; I always have and need to in order to go out there and be successful.” Mahler, who is 2-4 this season for the Oilmen with a 2.73 ERA, has pitched well as a reliable starter for the ball club. This past season, Mahler made 19 appearances at Heartland Community College, posting a 1.92 ERA. “The whole team is great, and the team has had my back throughout the season,” Mahler said. “If I did not have them, I would not be as successful this season as I am.” Mahler said his goal and his plan was to be able to make All-Star Game and represent the Oilmen. He did just that on July 9, pitching one inning and not allowing a run for the South All-Stars. “Having a competitive edge, going out there and telling myself that every day,” Mahler said. Mahler wanted to play for the Oilmen to stay close to home and wanted to play for the league after getting a small sample size last season when he pitched for the Lexington Snipes. “I’m excited about it because it is close to home and I’ll get to spend time with my family and friends,” Mahler said. Mahler hopes to continue to be in the starting rotation for the Oilmen as the second half of the season is just getting underway.




The Whiting Pierogi Fest is presented by the Whiting Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce. Drawing almost 200,000 visitors each year, the Festival is the pride of Whiting. It allows us to celebrate our heritage while poking a little fun at ourselves at the same time. Where else can you see grown women dressed up like our grandmothers (bushas, as we say) in housecoats and babushkas? Or the lawnmower brigade strut through town with sandals and socks on like our dads did? You’ll also see life-size polish pastries and goodies walking and talking waiting to take a picture with you. Only here at Whiting’s Pierogi Fest. Welcome!