Baseball: Richards edges Oak Lawn in SSC Red showdown
Richards’ Ricky Palacios had two things on his mind when he approached the batter’s box in the bottom of the seventh inning of Tuesday’s against Oak Lawn: keep his hands back and put the ball in play.
Palacios was effective on both counts.
The Bulldogs’ cleanup hitter hammered a breaking ball into the left-center field gap to score Jim Augle and give Richards a 6-5 South Suburban Red win.
Oak Lawn (14-7, 8-1) had scored three runs in the top of the seventh to forge a 5-all tie.
“The previous two at-bats I was out in front,” Palacios, said referring to two strikeouts against Oak Lawn starter Bob Kametas. “We practice waiting on breaking balls. I was looking breaking ball and trying to put the ball in play.”
Richards needed just two batters to break the tie. Augle, who robbed Chris Rafacz of extra bases in the fourth with a sprawling over-the-shoulder catch in center field, started the seventh with a bunt single and stole second base. Moments later, with the count 3-and-2, Palacios came through.
“That was all Jim,” Richards coach Brian Wujcik said, referring to Augle’s bunt. “Palacios did a nice job of two-strike hitting.”
Richards exhibited a nice job of two-out hitting in the first inning. After two quick outs, Augle (2-for-3) walked and the next four batters recorded hits, resulting in a 4-0 lead. Palacios (2-for-4) and Vince Boettger had a run-scoring single and double, respectively, and Eric Hall added a two-run single.
Brian Barnhouse’s sacrifice fly in the second off Richards starter Jordan Julian trimmed the deficit to 4-1.
The Bulldogs (14-9, 9-1) got that run back in the fifth on a two-out single RBI by Jon Danielson.
The Spartans, though, fought back. Chris Rafacz’s two-out double in the sixth scored Nick Mozwecz and cut the lead to 5-2.
Oak Lawn scored three runs after two were out in the top of the seventh. Kametas’s had an RBI single and Kyle Smith (2-for-4) delivered a clutch two-strike, two-run single that tied it at 5.
The Spartans stranded eight runners on the day.
“There were times when we just didn’t execute,” Oak Lawn coach Brian Clifton said. “I’m proud of how we came back.”