Baseball: Oak Forest knocks out Tinley Park
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org May 26, 2014 4:24PM
Dan Hlad, of Oak Forest, doubles in a run against Tinley Park for the 3A Joliet Catholic Region Quarterfinals at Oak Forest Monday, May 26th, 2014 in Oak Forest. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 28, 2014 6:25AM
Most teams prefer to be playing their best baseball at the end of the regular season, hoping it will carry over into the postseason.
Oak Forest wasn’t so fortunate, having dropped three consecutive games entering Monday’s Class 3A Joliet Catholic Regional play-in game against Tinley Park.
The Bengals, however, reverted back to midseason form to record an 11-1 victory over the rival Titans.
It was the third time Oak Forest defeated Tinley Park (10-18) this season. The Bengals (25-10) advance to Wednesday’s regional semifinal against Lemont.
“We weren’t hitting the ball real well the last three games,” Oak Forest’s Dan Hlad said. “We were looking to come out (Monday) and swing the bats.”
That’s precisely what the Bengals did, posting four runs in the first inning. Hlad was a major contributor throughout the day, going 2-for-2 with a walk, sacrifice fly and two RBI.
Brian Richard (2-for-3) and Drew Dominik (2-for-4) stroked consecutive doubles to give the Bengals a quick 1-0 first-inning lead.
Kevin Johnson (3-for-4) then bunted for a single and Joe Funkhouser hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
The Bengals tacked on two more runs before the first inning ended. Hlad hammered a double off the left-field fence that drove in run, and a Tinley Park error allowed another score for a 4-0 lead.
Oak Forest pitcher Jim Christian appreciated the early cushion.
“It gave me confidence,” said Christian, a junior right-hander. “It made me more comfortable. I just tried to keep the intensity up.”
A sacrifice fly by Hlad and RBI single by Matt Zubek in the third inning upped the lead to 6-0 and a run-scoring single by Johnson drove in one more for a 7-0 lead.
Tinley Park finally gave its fans something to cheer about in the fifth when Alec Foster smashed a solo homer that cut the deficit to 7-1.
The Titans had a golden opportunity to dig further into that deficit when they loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth on a double by Kanon Saavedra, walk to Quinn Kelly and single by Connor Ceglarz (2-for-3). Oak Forest coach Thad Gatton summoned Dominik from the bullpen and the right-hander recorded a 1-2-3 double play and strikeout to end the threat.
“That was typical of what has been going on this year,” Tinley Park coach Brian Gibbons said. “I was hoping someone would turn on a pitch and score a few runs and make things interesting.”
Instead, Oak Forest tacked on four runs in the sixth, highlighted by two-run singles by Funkhouser and Jim Smyth to put the 10-run rule into effect.