The weather finally cooperated long enough for a couple of baseball games to be played on Saturday, and OPRF took advantage of the sunny skies by sending baseballs soaring into the sky during a doubleheader against conference foe Glenbard West in Oak Park.
The Huskies (11-9, 6-5 West Sub. Silver) used a lethal combination of frugal pitching and powerful slugging to defeat the Hilltoppers 7-2 and 7-6. Sam Picchiotti kicked off the mini home-run derby in the opening game with a shot over the 325-foot sign in left field to put his team up 2-1 in the first inning. Picchiotti drove in Gil Claudio, who had reached on a single.
The Huskies did most of their damage in the fourth inning. To start the frame Drew Golz walked, stole second and then reached third on a passed ball. Golz eventually scored on another passed ball and Mike Michon upped OPRF’s lead 4-1 with an RBI. Graham Killian’s sacrifice fly with bases loaded capped off the scoring in the inning.
But OPRF didn’t let up in the fifth as Golz blasted a solo shot to left, and Michon’s single drove in JoJo Maldanado, who had reached on a triple when the Glenbard West left fielder and centerfielder collided trying to make the play.
OPRF’s defense was just as impressive as its bats. Neil Mejia (2-1) allowed just one earned run on four hits in seven innings. The senior right-hander, who remained unfettered after Glenbard West took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Kilian lost a blooper in the sun in shallow center, struck out six. Kilian seemed to vent his defensive miscue by slugging a shot to left field to open the bottom of the first. The ball was caught by the Glenbard West centerfielder as he fell into the fence.
In Game 2, the Huskies chipped away at a 6-1 deficit before Maldanado rocketed a two-run homer to tie the game at 6-6 in the fifth. The next inning with two outs Michon went long for the game-winner.
Brett Newman (2-1) fanned five out of six batters he faced in two innings for the win.
OPRF head coach Chris Ledbetter said he likes what he’s seeing right now in the play of his team.
“We’re pitching well for the most part; we’ve had to make a few adjustments in the rotation because of the makeup games, but we’re making things happen at the plate,” he said. “We’re not losing games by much. With maybe the exception of three losses, we’ve had the tying run on base in every game that we have lost. The bats are alive. We just need some consistency right now.”
On Friday, the Huskies lost 7-6 to Lyons Township in a previously postponed game. The Lions’ Luke Gacek broke a 6-6 tie in the 11th inning with a home run.