Oak Park-River Forest's Kevin Cortez celebrates as he scores on Ezra Moore's RBI double in the bottom of the sixth against Fenwick May 10. The Huskies defeated the Friars 3-0. | Carol Dunning

In a game that featured clutch pitching on both sides, the Oak Park and River Forest High School baseball team used some late small ball to notch a 3-0 victory over crosstown rival Fenwick on May 10 at Concordia University.

“No matter how good or bad each team is doing, it’s always going to be a close game,” said OPRF coach Kevin Campbell. “That’s why we love playing it.”

“Oak Park has always been solid; they’re very disciplined and well-coached,” said Fenwick coach Kyle Kmiecik. “They execute when they need to and they have guys step up. We’re going to build from this and be more confident moving forward.”

OPRF (12-17) had a golden opportunity to score in the bottom of the fourth inning. A double by Mason Phillips was followed by Ezra Moore’s bunt single and a walk to Patrick Carmody to load the bases. But Fenwick starting pitcher Mike Sosna escaped by striking out Brady Green and inducing Carlo Lissuzzo to hit into a force out.

“Mike did a really good job,” Kmiecik said. “He executed his pitches and attacked the zone.”

But OPRF starting pitcher Dylan Wipf was equally tough as he tossed five scoreless innings with three hits allowed to go with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Oak Park-River Forest starting pitcher Dylan Wipf completes his delivery against Fenwick May 10. Wipf tossed five scoreless innings in the Huskies’ 3-0 win over the Friars. | Carol Dunning

“Dylan stepped up in a big moment for us,” Campbell said. “He originally began as a starter this year but went to the bullpen to help out. It was the right time to give the senior the big game.”

In the bottom of the sixth, the Huskies finally broke through against Sosna. Kevin Cortez led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Phillips. Ezra Moore (2-for-3) then took an outside pitch and drilled it down the right field line for an RBI double and a 1-0 OPRF lead.

“My approach was thinking middle and away,” Moore said. “I had to wait for my pitch, and when it came my way, I swung.”

Carmody walked, and both runners advanced on a passed ball by Fenwick catcher Finnlay Koch. Green hit a sacrifice fly to right that Friars’ outfielder Andrew Henderson made a sliding catch on.

But on the next fly ball hit to him by Lissuzzo, Henderson, battling the sun, dropped the ball for an error, allowing Carmody to score and raise the lead to 3-0.

Fenwick (12-14) had a final shot in the seventh when two-out walks to Koch and Luke Hickey along with Henderson being hit by a pitch loaded the bases. But OPRF reliever and winning pitcher Drew Koenig (two innings, one hit) got Josh Wicker to ground out to Moore at second, ending the game.

“When you play teams like OPRF, you’ve got to take advantage because you know it’s going to be a tight game,” Kmiecik said. “We had runners on, but we need to step up and execute.”

Fenwick starting pitcher Mike Sosna completes his delivery against Oak Park-River Forest May 10. Sosna went six innings and allowed a earned run in the Friars’ 3-0 loss to the Huskies. | Carol Dunning

Sosna, who retired the Huskies’ first 10 batters to start the game, went six innings for the Friars, allowing three runs (two unearned) on three hits to go with five strikeouts and three walks. Ben Jarnecke had two of Fenwick’s four hits, including a double.

Both OPRF and Fenwick will look to build momentum with the state tournament looming. The Huskies are seeded 10th in the IHSA Class 4A Mount Carmel Sectional, while the Friars, a sectional host in Class 3A, are a No. 2 seed.

“Our record doesn’t show how much we’ve improved,” Kmiecik said. “We’ve battled some injuries, but we’ve had guys we didn’t anticipate step up. We’re confident that by playing the teams we have, we’re prepared to build momentum heading into the playoffs.”

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