OPRF starts strong in Silver with two wins over Glenbard West

? Fenwick waits out the weather, then unleashes the bats.

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The OPRF baseball team (4-2, 2-0 WSC) relied on the masterful pitching of Tim Dennehy and Ian Berger, neither of whom gave up an earned run in their 3-1, 3-0 sweep of West Suburban Silver Conference opponent Glenbard West in last Saturday's doubleheader.

University of Texas-bound Dennehy, struck out 12 batters and gave up three hits in the first game. Dennehy was helped offensively by back-to-back home runs hit by Matt McFolling and Berger.

In the second game, Berger took over the mound and delivered a two-hit performance, striking out 11. The first-year starter helped his cause offensively by driving in a run in the first inning.

Offensively, the Huskies struggled a bit, producing only five hits, and had to manufacture their runs. Berger's single knocked in Mike Cunningham who had singled. Brandon Lathon, courtesy runner for Berger, stole second base, moved to third on a ground out, and then scored on a Hilltopper wild pitch.

Despite the lack of offensive fireworks, OPRF head coach Chris Ledbetter is pleased. "I am happy with where the team is at right now. Opposing teams are batting .120 against our pitchers, we don't strike out a lot, and we pressure other teams with our defense. This is a team that puts the ball in play, and when you put the ball in play, good things happen," said Ledbetter.

The Hilltoppers were a tough early test for the Huskies, who are ranked first in the state of Illinois by the Chicago Tribune, and 10th in the nation according to USA Today. "Glenbard West is a good ball club. They were 3-0 coming in and have one of the top four pitchers in the state," said Ledbetter. "So these are two good wins for us."

The Huskies play Glenbard West again on Tuesday to complete the 3-game series, and then face Leyden on Thursday, followed by a doubleheader Saturday against the always tough Trojans of Downers Grove North.

Ledbetter says he hopes to use these wins to help the Huskies gain more confidence, and to focus on keeping their defense sharp. "As long as we play fundamentally sound and keep from giving teams a lot of opportunities, we'll do good things," Ledbetter said. "OPRF is as good as anyone in the state. We have one of the strongest pitching staffs, we play defense, and we hit."

As far as the rankings, Ledbetter isn't too concerned. "It's great but I tell the guys not to get caught up in the hype. That's when good teams get in trouble," said Ledbetter. "I just tell them to play their game, and good things will happen," he concluded.

Friars start fast

After cancellations and suspensions due to rain, sleet, snow, and darkness, the Fenwick baseball team (4-0) exploded out of the gates this week, winning four games in as many days. On Tuesday against St. Pat's, the Friars won 9-6, and were led offensively by Jack Horrigan who went 3-4 with two RBIs and Joe Carlini 2-3, four RBIs, including a two-run home run. The winning pitcher was Joe Vanis, who came in to relieve Mike Giovenco after four innings of work.

The following day the Friars kept pace, throttling Nazareth 14-0 (5 inn.) thanks to the pitching of Mark Brown, and the offensive production of Pat Brady, 2-3, 2 RBIs; Mark Baker, who also had two RBIs; and Carmen Curio who crushed a pinchhit 3-run homerun.

On Thursday Fenwick faced off against the Pirates of Proviso East, beating them 9-3. The Friars scored nine unanswered runs after falling behind 3-0. Dan Gallagher had three strikeouts and yielded 3 hits. Jim Murphy was 2-3 with three RBIs, and Horrigan went 2-2 with two RBIs to lead the Friars in a four-run third inning and a five-run fourth inning. Fenwick concluded their perfect week with a 13-6 win over St. Edward. Vanis got the win with a six-inning, five-run, six-hit performance, and received help offensively from Curio, 2-2 with two RBIs, and Brady, 2-4 with five RBIs, including a 3-run homerun.

Head coach Dave Hogan was more than pleased with his team's performances. "We are hitting very well from top to bottom in the order, and the hitting has really come along ahead of schedule," he said. "We finally got a dry week to play, and now can use these wins to build momentum, especially with our pitchers."

The Friars have another busy week as they took on Riverside Brookfield Monday away, and then traveled to Evanston yesterday. The Friars have a brief rest Wednesday before hosting St. Viator Thursday, and Maine South Friday.

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