Baseball: Oak Park-River Forest holds on, beats Maine South
Updated: June 2, 2012 6:54PM
Joe McKune did his best to block out all the distractions Saturday at Evanston.
Even after surrendering three runs in the bottom of the sixth, including a two-run homer, the Oak Park-River Forest senior pitcher stayed strong enough to help the Huskies to a 10-8 win over Maine South and the program’s first sectional championship since 2008.
McKune came on in relief with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to close out the game. After a shaky sixth, he retired three of the four batters in the seventh, two on strikeouts.
“I was trying to zone everything out around me,” McKune said. “It definitely was nerve-wracking.”
Oak Park-River Forest coach Chris Ledbetter felt the same way, especially after witnessing his team’s come-from-behind win the day before against New Trier.
“I was never comfortable, probably because of what happened (Friday),” he said. “I don’t think I was ever comfortable in the game. But our pitchers just gutted it out.”
Henry Cappell started and pitched into the fourth before Max Guzzetta took over. The left-handed senior was relieved in the fifth with the bases loaded and two outs. McKune ended the threat by getting Nick Calabrese to ground out to the shortstop.
The Huskies (28-9-1) play Highland Park on Monday at the Rockford Supersectional. The Giants won the Glenbrook South Sectional as the No. 13 seed.
Oak Park-River Forest last went to the state tournament in 2008, while Highland Park hasn’t been since 1969.
The Huskies looked good early against the top-seeded and No. 5-ranked Maine South. Matt McCormack’s three-run homer staked the Huskies to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first.
The Huskies extended their advantage to 10-2 in the fourth on Zach Weigel’s two-run single. The senior center fielder also hit a two-run homer in the second.
But the Hawks (32-6) didn’t go away.
Lawrence Darlak hit run-scoring singles in the fourth and fifth innings to cut the deficit to five. Then in the sixth, Keenan Kelly singled in a run and Jesus Saavedra hit a two-run homer, the junior’s first of the season. Both hits came with two outs.
Rocky Saavedra’s three scoreless innings of the relief gave the Hawks a chance at a comeback.
“It was a battle, and we fell a little short,” Maine South coach Bill Milano said.
Kyle Richardson was the fourth player to homer at Evanston with the wind blowing out to center field. The senior got Maine South on the board with his two-run blast in the first inning.
Richardson was in the on-deck circle with a runner on base in the bottom of the seventh when the game ended.