Wellwerts, Negele pitch Oilmen to MCL title
By mark Smith email@example.com August 7, 2012 2:18PM
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen are the Midwest Collegiate League Champs after sweeping a best of three series against DeKalb County on Saturday, August 4, 2012, in Whiting. | Mark Smith~Sun-Times Media
Midwest Collegiate League (MCL) Championship series
Semifinal series (best of 3)
7-31 DeKalb County 3, Southland Vikings 2
7-31 NWI Oilmen 5, DuPage County 1
8-1 DeKalb County 13, Southland Vikings 9
8-1 NWI Oilmen 10, DuPage County 6
Championship series (best-of-3)
8-3 (W) NWI Oilmen 12, DeKalb County 6
8-5 (W) NWI Oilmen 6, DeKalb County 2
DeKalb County (31-17), NWI OIlmen (32-16)
Updated: August 9, 2012 2:39PM
WHITING — Winning the Midwest Collegiate League title is not some thing that the Northwest Indiana Oilmen players always dreamed of doing.
When these players were young, there was no MCL, no Oilmen summer college team and no Oil City Stadium at the east end of Whiting.
But it was good to see Northwest Indiana players winning a championship beyond high school in Northwest Indiana.
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen scored six runs in the first three innings to top DeKalb County 6-2 Sunday night, winning the best-of-three game MCL championship series 2-games-to-0 in front of 500 fans on a near perfect night.
The Oilmen (32-16), in their first season playing in the two-year old MCL, swept both the semifinal and final series to take the college league’s summer championship. DeKalb County (31-17) was the regular season first place team. The Oilmen was second.
“All we knew was that this park was going to be built for my senior year in high school,” said Whiting High School graduate Elliott Bajda after the game Sunday. “It’s been a lot of fun. I don’t know if it motivates me more but a lot of people I know can come to the games. I’ve been trying to do my best to represent the town.”
Crown Point High graduate Josh Negele represented his town with a 5-1 record over the 48-game season. Negele was not in uniform for the championship clincher in case it wasn’t the championship clincher.
“If we’d have lost tonight,” he said, “I’d have pitched the third game.
“I got to pitch 60 innings. It was awesome. College (Ball State) is a little higher level. But this is more relaxing.
“It’s convenient to play here. There’s a lot of region guys around. It’s good. It’s tiring to play every day but it’s good. You get use to it.
“I played in the Jay Hawk League (a college league in Kansas) last year and it was awful.”
The Oilmen took advantage of DeKalb errors to score six times early. With two out and two on in the second, Highland grad John Livingston hit a ground ball to third that DeKalb’s Jared Tominee fumbled, filling the bases.
Alex Lincoln hit another ground ball to third base that Tominee threw past first base, allowing the first two runs to score. Bajda hit a hard grounder that slipped under the glove of Tominee, scoring two more runs. All three plays were truly errors and the Oilmen led 4-0.
In the third inning, Miller’s RBI double and Brandon Craig’s sacrifice fly ball made it 6-0 for winning pitcher Andy Wellwerts, a graduate of Hanover Central’s 2011 state finals team, who joined the Oilmen at mid-season.
“I had a lot of confidence in my team,” said Wellwerts, who had more success at the summer league level (the MCL is probably a low D-1 or high D-II college equivalent) than he did at Chicago State University last spring. “I think it’s the defense. They play a lot better defense here. That’ll do it for me, I guess.”
Wellwerts hadn’t played all summer, but one of his college coaches (CSU assistant Adam Enright) suggested him to Oilmen coaches.
“They told me last week I’d pitch the second game of the playoffs,” said Wellwerts, who was 8-1 for HC in 2011 but was 1-4 with an 8.29 ERA in college at CSU, which was 9-33 this season.
“I thought about that (the state title game, an 8-1 loss) a little bit. This was a lot better. A lot happier. I had more confidence than I usually would because I’ve only thrown three times for them (the Oilmen) and they wanted me to pitch this game.”
Oilmen infielder Craig Austgen of Lowell, who will attend St. Joseph’s College in Renssealer starting this month, did not play in the final game but batted .280 during the regular season in 118 at bats.
As you might guess, he had no complaints with his new team and hopes to return in 2013.
PLAYOFF NOTES: The final game was originally scheduled for Saturday but postponed after some violent mid-afternoon thunderstorms.
If there had been a third game it would have been Monday in DeKalb County, which edged the NWI Oilmen for the regular season championship.