OPRF        11 12
Hinsdale S. 0   2

Considering the OPRF baseball team has made it to the state tournament 11 times since their 1981 championship season, it’s historically obvious the Huskies know how to put together a late-season run.

Look no further than last spring when the Huskies caught fire all the way to the Class 4A championship game. Unfortunately, a red-hot Prairie Ridge club clipped the Huskies’ bid for a third baseball title by claiming a 3-2 win.

The Huskies hope victories in mid-April once again this season may provide the building blocks for more postseason glory (plus one more victory) this time around. Still relatively early into their 2009 campaign, the youthful Huskies (11-5, 5-1 West Suburban Silver) hit a hot streak winning four out of five games last week.

On Saturday, OPRF took two games from Hinsdale South by lopsided scores of 11-0 and 12-2. Jo Jo Maldonado cranked a two-run home run in the first inning and notched six RBIs in the opener. Sam Picchiotti (2-for-3, double, 3 RBIs) and John Frueh (2 hits, 3 RBIs) chipped in offensively. Evan Vondrasek picked up the win, allowing two hits and striking out five. The highlight of Game 2 came from sophomore starter Joe Donlan’s promising work on the mound. Donlan yielded five hits in five innings, while striking out three and walking two. Picchiotti went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and Mike Locasto added two hits.

On the day, OPRF roughed up the Hornets’ pitching for 23 runs off 27 hits.

“After struggling at the plate the first three weeks of the season, the team is showing progress,” OPRF coach Chris Ledbetter said. “We are concentrating on taking pitches the other way.”

The Huskies’ lone loss last week occurred on Friday as Loyola edged OPRF 5-3. Picchiotti, who took the loss, and Locasto each had an RBI for the Huskies.

On Thursday (April 16), another sophomore Will Polley, pitched a gem as the Huskies nipped Leyden 1-0. Polley went 6 1/3 innings, yielding only two hits and fanning six Leyden batters. Maldonado claimed the game-winning RBI with a double.

“The young pitching staff is gaining confidence and starting to show some poise on the mound,” Ledbetter said. “If we continue to throw strikes and our hitters continue to use the whole field, our progress should continue.”

The Huskies also notched an important 6-4 conference win over Proviso West last week. Veteran pitcher Luke McLeese went six innings, giving up four runs and five hits. After the Panthers loaded the bases in the seventh, OPRF reliever Evan Vondrasek struck out the side to pick up a save in scintillating fashion. Picchiotti turned in a solid, all-around performance with two hits and four stolen bases as OPRF took hold of first place in the conference standings.

The Huskies visit York in a conference doubleheader match-up (10 a.m.) on Saturday.

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...