It was the “Battle of the Southpaws” Saturday afternoon at Oak Park and River Forest High School as Morton’s Ryan Crowley took the mound against OPRF’s Drew Golz. What many thought would be a pitcher’s duel between the two turned out to be a lopsided 9-0 victory and a regional championship for OPRF.
Golz pitched six strong innings for the Huskies, while Crowley couldn’t get through the fifth inning, leaving with two outs and the bases loaded. A two-out, bases-clearing triple gave the Huskies their 9-0 cushion.
The success of the Huskies’ bats may be contributed to the fact that just three weeks prior, they got to face Crowley in an 8-7 win. However, Crowley struck out 12 batters in that contest. On Saturday, he only fanned five.
“There is no doubt it helped us that [Morton] pitched Crowley against us three weeks ago,” said OPRF head coach Chris Ledbetter. “We wanted to make him throw from the stretch, so we needed to cut down on the strikeouts and get base runners.”
Ledbetter’s emphasis on base runners really showed in the second inning. After a one-out double by Andy Brashler, Ledbetter put on the steal sign and Brashler stole third. With Crowley going from the wind-up, Brashler did an even greater feat and stole home.
“We started practicing [the steal home] seven years ago and I told the kids, ‘If we have a chance to steal home in the first two innings, I’m going to do it,'” said Ledbetter. “This was the first time we did it. I tried to rattle [Crowley]. It was out of respect for the kid because he is that good of a pitcher.”
The real story was the brilliant performance of Golz. The Air Force Academy recruit walked only one, while striking out five in his six innings of work. Morton only mustered two hits off the senior, both of which were in the second inning, the only time the Mustangs threatened. The second inning was the only time a Mustang reached third base. Golz would strike-out Alex Blanco and induce a ground-out to keep the runner stranded.
“I was hitting my spots and my change-up was better than it usually is,” said Golz, who also went 3-for-3, with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Jo Jo Maldanado set the tone for the Huskies’ bats in the first inning with a two-out, two-run homer to left-center field.
“It was a big hit. I’m personal friends with Ryan Crowley so when I come up to the plate we are always smiling at each other,” said Maldanado. After [the home run], we really got going.”
It certainly got Brashler and Sam Picchiotti going. Brashler went 1-for-1 with a double, two walks and two runs scored, while Picchiotti went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored. The Huskies had 11 hits on the afternoon.
A 2-1 victory for Whitney Young over St. Ignatius means that OPRF will take on Whitney Young for a chance to play in the Mt. Carmel Sectional Championship.
“I had staff scouting Whitney Young, so we’ll be ready,” said Ledbetter.
Kyle Glancy is scheduled to take the mound against the Dolphins Thursday at Mt. Carmel (4:30 p.m.). A victory would pit the Huskies against either cross-town rival Fenwick or Mt. Carmel in the sectional title game on Saturday (11 a.m.) at Mt Carmel.
The super-sectional is scheduled for Monday at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood (7:30 p.m.).