The summer league baseball season is a time for teams to learn and jell.

By that metric, the Oak Park and River Forest High School baseball team still has a long way to go.

The Huskies won the Fenwick Regional by beating Nazareth 7-1 last Thursday, but things didn’t go so well during Monday’s opening game of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic.

OPRF committed three errors and several other mistakes in a 7-0 loss to Lincoln-Way North at Benedictine University in Lisle, dropping the Huskies into the loser’s bracket of the eight-team, double-elimination state tournament. In their final game this summer, OPRF lost to Marist 8-1.

OPRF coach Chris Ledbetter was not surprised by the results.

“It’s not uncharacteristic,” Ledbetter said. “If there’s no focus on preparing for games, that’s what you see.

“I don’t know how other teams do it but we have a level of preparation. (Instead) this was guys coming out and doing things that aren’t fundamentally sound and that’s what happens. You can get away with it for a period of time but you can’t get away with it consistently.”

The Huskies (15-9) didn’t get away with it at all against Lincoln-Way North (9-6), which scored four unearned runs off Huskies senior Joe Cundari in the top of the first inning.

The misfortune began on the second pitch of the game when Nick Figus reached on an error and advanced on a passed ball. Ben Troike then hit a line drive that was dropped by third baseman Dali Durazo, whose throw to first was too late.

Cundari retired the next hitter on a grounder to second, but Jimmy Quinn gave the Phoenix the lead with a two-run single to left. After a walk and a strikeout, Mitch Strzelczyk followed with a pop fly double down the right field line that went in and out of the glove of a diving Jack Brennan, allowing two more runs to score.

Cundari gave up eight hits, only two of which were rockets, and two walks while striking out four. Just two of the seven runs were earned, both coming in the seventh when he gave up three singles, the last to Quinn, who finished with four RBIs.

“I’m not going to blame it on the infield,” Cundari said. “I missed some spots and my arm didn’t feel 100 percent today.

“I just couldn’t find it today. I was happy with how I pitched but it just wasn’t one of my best outings.”

The Phoenix took advantage of two more OPRF errors to score another run in the fourth and that cushion was more than enough for Lincoln-Way North pitchers Mitch Hunter and Joe Prestamer, who combined on a four-hit shutout.

Hunter hurled the first five innings, surrendering four singles and a walk, while Prestamer pitched the final two innings.

“(Hunter) is the type of pitcher that you’re going to see in high school,” Ledbetter said. “He’s throwing fast balls trying to get ahead in the count so he can use his off-speed.

“When we were ahead in the count we were swinging at bad pitches. When you don’t play defense and you allow a team to put four on you in the first it becomes easy to pitch because you pitch free and easy and that’s what we did. We allowed them to get that four-spot in the first.”

Senior Hank Christie, who committed to Northwestern last week, had the first hit for the Huskies, a bloop single with two outs in the third. Andrew Hennings, Griffin Kelty and Brennan had the other hits.

The singles by Kelty and Brennan in the fifth gave OPRF its’ best chance to score but the Huskies could not take advantage of the two-on, nobody out opportunity as Hunter retired Ryan Molina, Christie and Jeremy Gaines in order. The Huskies also had two on with one out in the seventh but failed to score.

“We have to figure out what we did wrong,” Cundari said. “People who did something wrong need to work on it and I have to work on things, too. We’re still building team chemistry because have some new kids coming up, but there’s not much (else) to say.”

Ledbetter did not say much to the Huskies before they played Marist in the consolation bracket Monday afternoon.

“I think they understand it’s a lack of senior leadership right now,” Ledbetter said. “We’re allowing things that we never would have allowed last spring.

“Right now we have 33 guys doing their own thing and that’s just not going to work. We won’t tolerate it.”

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