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Baseball: Oak Forest pounds out 15 hits, drubs Tinley Park 12-2

Oak Forest's Brian Richard (17) bats vs. Tinley Park. | Paul Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media

Oak Forest's Brian Richard (17) bats vs. Tinley Park. | Paul Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 22, 2013 6:28AM



It’s been a trying season for an Oak Forest squad beset by injuries.

Projected staff ace Kyle Czeszewski hasn’t thrown a pitch all season, and No. 2 Dan Hlad has been out six weeks. Each has an arm injury.

An assortment of position players also have required periods of rest because of injury.

On Monday in its Class 3A playoff opener, a healthier Oak Forest squad showed what it’s capable of.

Jason Hine fired a four-hitter and the Oak Forest offense pounded out 15 hits during a 12-2 five-inning win over visiting Tinley Park in a Lemont Regional play-in game.

The Bengals (18-13) advance to take on top-seeded Joliet Catholic on Wednesday in Lemont.

“We’re as healthy as we have been,” Oak Forest coach Thad Gatton said. “You go out and play with what you have. You can’t make excuses. Other kids have stepped up.”

The first four batters in Oak Forest’s order — Brian Richard, Kevin Johnson, Tom Livingston and Austin Davis — went a combined 10-for-14 with nine runs and four RBI.

Johnson was 4-for-4 with an RBI from the two-hole. Richard (2-for-3, 2 runs), Livingston (2-for-3, 3 runs, RBI) and Davis (2-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI) mightily contributed to the mix.

As did Joe Muller (2-for-2, 2 walks, RBI) and Tom Zale. A senior, Zale, who also starred in football and basketball, drove in three runs, including two on a double that put the 10-run rule in effect and ended the game.

“We’ve had so many injuries to so many different kids,” Zale said. “The most I’ve ever seen in baseball. Hopefully, we’re coming around at the right time.”

Early on, it looked as if Tinley Park (15-13) had upset on its mind. The Titans led 2-1 heading into the bottom of the second after a two-run double by Marcus Stokes.

Oak Forest eventually grabbed a 3-2 lead after three innings, helped by a pair of Titans errors. The Bengals put the game away with a five-run fourth and four-run fifth.

The Titans committed four errors on the day.

“If we’re going to beat anybody, we can’t make that many errors,” Tinley Park coach Brian Gibbons said. “The errors came in key situations, too. I hope we learn from it. We have to turn the page and stop these one-and-out in the playoffs.”

Hine struck out six during a 75-pitch performance.

Sophomore Quinn Kelly lasted 31/3 innings, allowing six runs with two walks and two strikeouts. Mitch Smith was 2-for-2 for the Titans.

It was the third time Oak Forest defeated Tinley Park this season.

“You never want to overlook a team, especially them,” Richard said of Tinley Park. “They’re a huge rivalry.”



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