Baseball: Oak Forest’s Kevin Johnson chows down on Richards
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media July 15, 2014 7:02PM
Tom Jager, of Oak Forest, pitches a complete game shut out against Richards for summer league quarterfinal regional action at Richards, July 15th, 2014, in Oak Lawn. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 16, 2014 2:14AM
Oak Forest’s Kevin Johnson was happy to contribute in an area that normally escapes him.
Playing in a regional quarterfinal of the Phil Lawler Classic summer baseball tournament, Johnson, the Bengals’ leadoff hitter, knocked in three runs to spark Oak Forest past Richards 12-0 in five innings Tuesday.
“It usually doesn’t turn out very well for me in the RBI column, so it felt good to get some,” Johnson said. “I was seeing the ball like a watermelon.”
Johnson ripped a two-RBI single in the second inning to give Oak Forest a 3-0 lead. He later sparked a six-run fourth by driving in Jimmy Smyth for the first run of the inning.
Oak Forest’s entire starting lineup safely reached base, with seven scoring runs. The Bengals (6-5) advance to face St. Laurence at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Richards in a regional semifinal.
“We all love to play,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun this year.”
Oak Forest starting pitcher Tom Jager earned the complete-game win, scattering four hits and striking out two.
“I was very comfortable out there — my arm felt great,” Jager said. “It was easy for me because we put 12 runs on them. I think I threw two curveballs the whole game. My changeup was working for me. I could throw it any time in the count.”
After allowing a leadoff walk and then a double by Chris Zechke in the first inning, Jager settled down and retired five straight batters.
“He’s a surgeon out there,” Oak Forest coach Ron Czarnecki said of Jager. “He did all that with his fastball and changeup.”
Brett Thomas reached base in all three of his plate appearances for Richards (11-8), but coach Brian Wujcik said the Bulldogs had too many mental errors to keep up.
“It was a complete lack of mental preparation,” Wujcik said. “I thought we had a poor approach at the plate. I thought defensively we weren’t focused enough.
“We have a young team. We’ve had to do a lot of teaching and coaching this summer, but I was really hoping after five weeks of instruction our guys would understand things a little more.”
Jimmy Christian added three RBI and Damon Czarnecki had two for Oak Forest. Luke Henniff and Smyth each drove in a run.