Generals lefty Bell shines early, Vitulli finds positives late in 11-0 loss at Oilmen

07/07/2020 12:48 AM -

Whiting, Ind. – July 6, 2020 – The Joliet Generals fell in a double-digit loss for the second consecutive night at Oil City Stadium to the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Monday night, this time by a final score of 11-0.

Generals manager Matt Vitulli found positives in his team’s third loss in a row to start the season.

While the Generals (0-3) could not get a man to cross home plate, Vitulli said the four baserunners for Joliet in the final two innings were something the team would carry into Tuesday’s home opener against the Crestwood Panthers (0-3).

“The last two innings for us were huge,” Vitulli said. “They were huge just from an attitude standpoint. (It is) 11-0 we could have easily gone up there and taken a 1-2-3 inning, but we found barrels. We made them make plays. I think we are definitely going to be building off of.”

For the first time in the 2020 season, the Generals held their opponent scoreless in the first inning. Without giving up an earned run until the fifth inning, the team held the Oilmen (3-0) to the lowest run total through five innings of the season with three.

Starting pitcher Andrew Hancock (Central Missouri / New Lenox, Ill.) and reliever Jack Bell (Western Illinois / Minooka, Ill.) combined for those five innings, with Bell throwing three, allowing only two hits and one run while striking out four Oilmen and walking none.

“I’m just trying to pound the zone and work the corners of the plate,” Bell said. “I’m a big believer in trusting my defense. If the strikeouts come, then the strikeouts come, but I love letting (my defense) work.”

Monday night marked the second appearance of the young 2020 season for Bell. Through 5.1 innings, Bell has only allowed three hits and is yet to walk any batters. Not only does Bell lead the Generals in innings pitched, but he is also tied for the team lead in strikeouts with Seth Quick (Triton College / Lombard, Ill.) at five punchouts.

“I’m always giving everything my all,” Bell said. “If (Vitulli) wants me to go two innings, I’ll go two innings. If he wants me to get a batter, I’ll get a batter. I am here for what is going to make us win.”

Monday night’s game looked to be a pitchers’ duel through five and a half innings. That changed quickly in the bottom of the sixth as the Oilmen scored eight runs to extend their lead to 11.

Joliet has played two of the three best teams in the Midwest Collegiate League in the DuPage County Hounds and Northwest Indiana Oilmen. The two are tied with the Southland Vikings at the top of the MCL standings at 3-0 while the Generals find themselves at the cellar of the league with the MCL Minutemen and Crestwood Panthers at 0-3.

“It’s going to take time,” Bell said. “It is going to take time just to get back into the momentum of everything. (It is a) shortened season, we haven’t played since March. A lot of us haven’t been able to get into the normal routines (this year) that we’ve been doing since we’ve been five, six or seven years old. We just have to keep sticking with each other. It is a grind, but we’re here for it.”

The Generals open up their home schedule and a four-game homestand that will see the Panthers, Hounds, Minutemen and Vikings come to Howie Minas Field in Midlothian, Ill. on Tuesday.

“It will be nice for us to get to a place where we play four in a row, especially since a few of our guys know the field,” Vitulli said.

The Generals take on the Panthers at 3 pm Tuesday. The matchup can be seen and heard on the Joliet Generals Facebook page with Alex Coil and Jon Zaghloul on the call.