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NWI Oilmen fall to Southland again to lose MCL championship series

As NWI Oilmen fell behind 3 0 4th inning Oilmen manager #35 JustHuisman argues with umpire thlast run scored home

As the NWI Oilmen fell behind 3 to 0 in the 4th inning, Oilmen manager #35 Justin Huisman, argues with the umpire that the last run scored the home plate wasn't touched, during the 2nd game of the MCL Championship on 8/4/13, at Homewood Flossmoor High. | John Booz~for the Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 6, 2013 6:20AM



FLOSSMOOR, Ill. — In 2012, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen grabbed the Midwest Collegiate League Championship in their inaugural season. One year later, the Southland Vikings earned their first MCL crown in their fourth year of existence, completing the championship sweep with a 4-1 victory on Sunday night at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

“Finally! After four years!” exclaimed Southland manager Chris Cunningham while posing for photos after the game. “It definitely feels good to be a champion, especially when you have to beat one of the better teams in the league. We just got hot at the right time and had some solid pitching down the stretch.”

Solid pitching may have been an understatement, as the Vikings pitching staff allowed a total of five runs in their four playoff games — all victories.

On Sunday night, it was Chris Chigas’ turn — again — to steal the spotlight. Chigas pitched six innings of no-hit baseball against DuPage County in the first round, and was dominant against the Oilmen on Sunday. He fanned 10 hitters in eight innings of work, allowing just three walks and two hits. He hit his best groove between the second and sixth innings, retiring 12 consecutive batters.

“I just had everything working. I was hitting the zone and keeping the ball down,” said Chigas, an Oak Lawn, Ill. native. “All four pitchers were working and I kept them off-balance the whole way.”

“They’re just a good team,” said Oilmen manager Justin Huisman, who had his team in the MCL Championship series for the second straight year. “Their starters did an outstanding job in the postseason and all season long. Their offense has been good all summer, too. We just made too many mistakes in both games and against a good team, you can’t do that.”

A throwing error in the third inning helped moved Southland’s Sean Beesley to third base in the third inning, and Indiana University’s Chris Sujka drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly in the third inning.

With runners on second and third in the fourth, Southland catcher Mark Munizzi hit a hard grounder to Oilmen second baseman Joe Houlihan, who fired home. On a close play, Dan Potempa was ruled safe at the plate, prompting stern arguments from Oilmen starter Jimmy McNamara and then Huisman.

“I haven’t been that worked up in a long time,” said McNamara, a Lake Central High School graduate, who allowed three runs in seven innings of work. McNamara quickly ended that threat with a pair of strikeouts.

Southland added one more run in both the fifth and eighth innings, giving reliever Alex Lesiak a four-run cushion in the ninth. He allowed one run to score on a sacrifice fly by Lowell High graduate Craig Austgen.

That was all the damage he allowed, and a soft popout to short stop ended the game, clinching the championship for the Vikings.



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