MCL playoffs: LC’s Jimmy McNamara gets the call in Game 1 for Oilmen
By Dave Melton Post-Tribune correspondent July 29, 2013 7:04PM
NWI Oilmen's Jimmy McNamara throws a pitch in the first inning against Michigan City during their game held at Oil City Stadium in Whiting on Sunday July 7, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Oilmen vs. Lexington
Game 1 — 7 p.m. Tuesday, at Oil City Stadium in Whiting
Game 2 — 7 p.m. Wednesday, at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.
Game 3 (if necessary) — 7 p.m. Thursday, at Oil City Stadium
Updated: August 31, 2013 6:35AM
WHITING — The last time Jimmy McNamara pitched in a postseason game, it was the 2012 Class 4A state championship game.
Lake Central won that game, as McNamara hurled a three-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over Roncali. The stakes aren’t quite as high just yet, but McNamara is scheduled to be the starting pitcher for the NWI Oilmen on Tuesday as they take on the Lexington Snipes in Game 1 of their MCL semifinal series.
“It’s pretty important to me,” McNamara said of being named the Game 1 starter. “I really like pitching in big games. I’ve always felt like I’ve thrived under that pressure.”
McNamara faced Lexington twice in the regular season, working eight innings in each outing. He allowed just two runs — one earned — in those 16 innings, earning the victory in each start.
“I remember they had a pretty good amount of lefties and I pitch well against lefties,” McNamara said. “I’ll have to do a good job of mixing up my fastball with some offspeed stuff to keep them off-balance.”
McNamara leads a talented and well-rested Oilmen pitching staff into the postseason.
“In the last week or two, I’ve tried to make sure that (McNamara) would be plenty rested,” said Oilmen manager Justin Huisman. “We’ve got the rotation set up for a run. I think our pitching staff is well-rested. It’s an advantage.”
To back up that pitching, the Oilmen will bring the MCL’s highest-scoring offense to the playoffs as well. Two of the Oilmen’s streaking hitters are a pair of Northwest Crossroads Conference alumni: Lowell’s Craig Austgen and Andrean’s Kenny Mahala.
Austgen put together a 12-for-28 stretch from July 16-24, raising his batting average from .226 to .299 with three doubles and five RBI.
Mahala is riding a six-game hit streak that his seen his batting average jump 36 points. During that span, Mahala launched his first home run of the season — a solo blast against Lexington on July 22 — and has gone 8-for-20 with two doubles and four RBI.
“The lineup will change a bit. We’re just trying to get some hot bats in the right spots to get as many guys on base as possible,” Huisman said.
The Oilmen are the No. 2 seed in the MCL playoffs — the same position they were in last year when they ended the postseason as MCL champions. The DuPage County Hounds took the No. 1 seed, and they’ll begin their best-of-three semifinal round Tuesday against the Southland Vikings.
The winner of each semifinal round will then meet for the title in another best-of-three series beginning on Friday.