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Baseball: Pitching, defense making big difference for Oak Forest

Oak Forest coach Thad Gatton. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

Oak Forest coach Thad Gatton. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 17, 2014 6:40AM



Oak Forest’s roster may not boast the tremendous depth of years past, but it does have the personnel that deserves respect.

The 1-2 pitching punch of seniors Danny Hlad and Drew Dominik has been terrific, and the defense has made the routine plays in helping the Bengals to an 8-3 record through Monday.

“I’m very happy where we’re at right now,” Oak Forest coach Thad Gatton said. “This is a feeling-out point of the season. For us to be 8-3 is real good.”

Two of those losses have come against Lincoln-Way West, which is 9-0, and Richards, which is 8-2.

“The losses are disappointing, but they were good losses to quality programs,” Gatton said.

Hlad and Dominik have been super. Once senior lefty Brian Richard gets his pitching arsenal up to speed, the Bengals will boast three outstanding arms.

“Hlad and Dominik have kept us in every game they’ve started,” Gatton said. “We hope to have Richard pitching soon.”

What’s plagued Oak Forest is an inconsistent offense. Gatton, though, expects the bats to catch fire.

There’s too much talent for that not to happen. Kevin Johnson, Austin Davis, Brian Richard, Joe Funkhouser and Alex Maka have the ability to generate lots of offense.

Gatton expects Oak Forest to contend for the South Suburban Blue title, though Lemont clearly is the team to beat.

“Lemont is incredibly talented and well coached,” Gatton said. “But I think we can compete for conference.”

Lockport raising funds

Lockport is hosting the Third Annual Strike Out Cancer Event on Saturday. The Porters will play five games against Minooka, beginning with a 10 a.m. freshman “B” game followed by freshman “A” at noon, sophomores at 2 p.m., junior varsity at 4 p.m. and varsity at 6 p.m. Admission is $8 for fans 10 and up and $5 for seniors and children ages 3 to 9. Entry includes donation, wrist band and one food ticket for a picnic lunch.

All proceeds from the event benefit Make Your Mark Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer. More information about the foundation can be found at www.makeyourmark7.org/home/.

A great day of baseball for a great cause.

Player of the Week

Ryan Earll, of Lincoln-Way Central, is the SouthtownStar Baseball Player of the Week.

Earll, a senior third baseman, was 9-for-17 with two doubles, three homers, seven runs and nine RBI. He was 3-for-3 Saturday, with a double, two homers and three RBI in a 17-1 win over Plainfield South.



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