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Oilmen players lose title but take valuable experience back to school

Oilmen's relief pitcher Aveeno Nasiloski throws against Rockford during first game double header baseball game Whiting In. July 13 2013.

Oilmen's relief pitcher Aveeno Nasiloski throws against Rockford during the first game of a double header baseball game in Whiting, In., on July 13, 2013. NWI Oilmen beat Rockford 7 to 6 in eight innings. | John Smierciak~for Sun-Times Media ORG XMIT: oilmen-PTB-071413-10

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Updated: September 8, 2013 6:35AM



Ultimately, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen fell two wins shy of matching the success of their franchise’s first season, with a two-game sweep at the hands of the Southland Vikings in the MCL championship series thwarting their plans at repeating as league champions.

The absence of big hits in the championship series plagued the Oilmen offense, which scored four runs in those two contests.

“I think that was where we fell short in the championship,” Oilmen manager Justin Huisman said. “We got some guys on base but we just didn’t get any big hits.”

While championships remain the final measure of success in sports, silver linings lay everywhere for the 2013 Oilmen squad. For college baseball players competing in summer leagues away from their school programs, these games served as a chance to get some much-needed playing time.

Gavit graduate Aveeno Nasiloski, who returns to Chicago State University this fall, was one of the biggest benefactors from the summer.

“I feel like I’m a lot more confident in my stuff now. I feel like I got better in a lot of areas,” he said.

Nasiloski pitched 241/3 innings out of the bullpen for NWI, allowing three runs all season for a miniscule ERA of 1.11.

“(This summer) was big for his game and you saw the outstanding job he did,” said Huisman. “Hopefully we can do well back at Chicago State.”

Nasiloski was one of many pitchers who thrived in the summer, as the Oilmen pitching staff baffled MCL hitters all season long.

“I think the strength of this year’s team was pitching. All summer long, our starters did an outstanding job,” said Huisman. “Our late inning guys, too, like Aveeno and (Matt) Pobereyko … what can you say about what they did this summer?”

Pobereyko (3-1, 2.65 ERA, 5 SV), a Bishop Noll product, and Nasiloski were a formidable duo out of the Oilmen bullpen, but sometimes their services weren’t required thanks to a talented crop of starters, led by Lake Central alum Jimmy McNamara (5-1, 1.51 ERA, 59.2 IP) and Michael Steensen (4-1, 1.85 ERA, 53.1 IP)

“I think I had a really good summer. Hopefully I can carry that into the fall,” said McNamara, who will be embarking on his sophomore campaign at Central Michigan. “I fine-tuned all of my pitches, got ahead of guys and got the first guy out.”

The offense had its share of accomplishments as well, led by the MCL record 37 RBI amassed by Butler’s Nick Bartolone. Lowell native Craig Austgen (.284, 4 2Bs, 10 RBI) and Andrean’s Kenny Mahala (.266, 8 2Bs, 1 HR) each caught fire in the final weeks of the regular season to help propel the Oilmen into the championship series.

But all of those statistics will reset to zero in just a few weeks, as players make their way back to their respective campuses to start their fall seasons and these last few months turn into memories.

“We had so much fun this together; I think that’s why we were so good,” said infielder Joe Houlihan, who’ll join McNamara on the trek back to Central Michigan. “It’s all a process. You just have to keep learning more and more as your days roll on.”



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