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Oilmen roll over possible future MCL rival Michigan City

Oilmen's Andy Wellwerts throws pitch aginst Michigan City during their game held Oil City Stadium Whiting Sunday June 16 2013.

Oilmen's Andy Wellwerts throws a pitch aginst Michigan City during their game held at Oil City Stadium in Whiting on Sunday June 16, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 18, 2013 6:44AM



WHITING — The rosters would be different, but Sunday’s matchup between the Northwest Indiana Oilmen and the Michigan City Lakers could become more than just an exhibition game in the future.

While the Oilmen are an established Midwest Collegiate League team — and the reigning champion — the Lakers are an organization with an eye on earning a future spot in the same league.

“Our big goal is to put a new stadium in down by the lakefront, with the idea that we could be an MCL franchise,” said Mike Einstein, an assistant coach and co-GM for the Lakers. “That’s the working hypothesis.”

The Lakers roster is a mix of current college players, former semi-pro players, and more—many with local roots. Joining the MCL would mean that the Lakers would convert to a roster of college players, just like the Oilmen. It could also lead to a rivalry between the two squads hailing from the 219 area code.

“I think the rivalry would be there with the distance (between the two teams); it’s a short commute,” Einstein said.

On Sunday night, though, the Oilmen flexed its championship muscle, winning its fourth straight and seventh in the last eight games with a 10-3 victory.

It was Michigan City which took the early lead with an RBI single from LaPorte High School graduate Nick Latham and a two-run homer from Westville product Lou Grounds, spotting the Lakers an early 3-0 lead in the top of the second.

By the bottom of the third, however, the Oilmen (8-3 overall, 6-2 MCL) had tied the game at 3-3, and by the end of the fifth the Oilmen had gained a 6-3 advantage — a lead they would not relinquish.

“When you’re hitting the ball well, three runs doesn’t look insurmountable,” said Oilmen manager Justin Huisman.

The Oilmen lived up to their billing as the MCL’s No. 1 offense, racking up 18 hits against Lakers’ pitching. Leiff Clarkson led the Oilmen with four hits in the contest, while Nick Bartolone added three from his sixth spot in the lineup and cleanup hitter Tyler Baar added three more hits as well as three RBI.

Hanover Central grad and 2011 Post-Tribune Player of the Year Andy Wellwerts earned his second win in as many starts. He went six innings for the second straight outing, allowing three runs on four hits and one walk to go with five strikeouts. After that three-run second inning, Wellwerts only allowed one base runner for the remainder of the game.

“That was something that I had to learn while growing up. I had a bad attitude,” Wellwerts said of his ability to remain composed after the early deficit. “I don’t let my head get down at all anymore. I get back out there and try to fight for the win.”



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