The Oak Park and River Forest and Fenwick high school baseball teams met May 18 at the Dominican Priory in a renewal of their version of the Crosstown Classic.
In an intense, playoff-like environment, visiting OPRF would score all the runs they needed in one inning as the Huskies shutout the Friars 3-0.
“I thought the energy was really high for both teams,” said OPRF coach Kevin Campbell. “It’s nice to have a game like that going into the playoffs, especially being on the winning side.”
“We know that playing against those guys from down the street, they’re going to bring their ‘A’ every year,” said Fenwick assistant coach Kyle Kmiecik, filling in for head coach Dave Hogan, who was not on the bench. “We knew we were going to have to rise to the occasion.”
The Friars (13-14) were hoping to notch a big win heading into the IHSA Class 3A state tournament, but OPRF junior pitcher Calvin Proskey had other ideas. He tossed six shutout innings, allowing six hits and striking out nine.
“I personally like big crowds,” Proskey said. “Their energy gets me going. Pretty much everything was working for me today. I was able to get my curveball over.”
“Calvin’s picked up right where he left off last year,” Campbell said. “He’s become one of our dominant pitchers. It’s like a 1A and 1B between Calvin and David Andolina.”
The Huskies (19-9) generated the game’s only offense in the top of the fourth inning. Dan Michaud led off with a single, then Jack Flagg walked. Fenwick starting pitcher Luis Gonzales induced a double-play grounder by JP Ferraro, and it appeared the Friars would escape the jam.
But Giovanni Pamias’ ground ball to Fenwick second baseman Jordan Vazquez was mishandled, allowing Michaud to score. Then back-to-back doubles by Maddox Neumann and Ethan Moore resulted in two more runs and a 3-0 OPRF lead.
“When you play against good teams, you can’t give them extra outs,” Kmiecik said. “Especially a disciplined and well-coached team like OPRF. We had opportunities to score runs, but [Proskey] did a great job.”
Gonzales went five innings, allowing three runs (all unearned), four hits and two walks while getting four strikeouts.
OPRF senior Jack Spinks relieved Proskey for the bottom of the seventh and retired the side. He’s part of a pitching staff that Campbell feels will help determine the postseason fortunes for the Huskies, who are seeded sixth in the IHSA Class 4A Reavis Sectional.
“We’re going to rely a lot on Calvin and David,” he said about OPRF’s top starting pitchers. “When we get performances like today from them, the odds are in our favor.”
Meanwhile, Fenwick is the second seed in its own sectional. The Friars also host a regional.
“Our record doesn’t show the ability and talent that we have,” Kmiecik said. “We’ve got to clean things up a little bit. But knowing that we’re at home will give us confidence.”
OPRF begins the playoffs May 25 at Whitney Young in a regional semifinal. Should the Huskies prevail, chances are they’ll face third-seeded Riverside-Brookfield High School for the title May 28.
Fenwick also starts the playoffs May 25 with a regional semifinal against visiting Pritzker. With a win, the Friars would meet either Northside Prep or Steinmetz for the regional title May 28.