Baseball: Era ends for Picchiotti familySam Picchiotti (left) poses with younger brother Jack after Saturday's Class 4A state championship game. Middle brother Frank missed the game while playing in a college summer league game. | George M. Wilcox~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: June 12, 2012 5:12PM
It seemed appropriate that the last member of the Picchiotti family to play for Oak Park-River Forest scored the winning the run in the last inning of the last game of the season.
Jack Picchiotti’s run set off fireworks at Silver Cross Field in Joliet as the celebration began Saturday in a Class 4A state championship win over West Suburban Silver rival Lyons. OPRF won 4-3 on a no-out, walk-off single with the bases loaded by Michael Brennan. Picchiotti, OPRF’s Purdue-bound catcher, led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple into the corner in right field.
While so many high school catchers get replaced with a courtesy runner during games, Picchiotti is an exception. The starting linebacker from the football team has speed and entered the state tournament with 30 runs scored to rank third on the Huskies. Picchiotti has batted No. 2 in the batting order all season behind center field speedster Zach Weigel, a starting defender from the boys soccer team in the fall. Both Picchiotti and Weigel were co-captains for this year’s team.
Jack is the last of three sons of Bob and Kary Picchiotti from Oak Park to play for the Huskies. All three played for coach Chris Ledbetter. There is an element of speed in the family. Jack’s oldest brother, Sam, holds the single season school record for stolen bases (26).
Jack watched Sam play in the 2008 state final when the Huskies lost to Prairie Ridge, 3-2. On Saturday, Sam was there to watch Jack win a state title. Jack (2-for-3, two runs, RBI) tripled earlier in the title game in the third inning.
“This is awesome. This is the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” Jack said after the final win. “It’s unreal right now.”
Sam, a future senior infielder playing at Wright State, spoke with younger brother Jack regularly during the season.
“Obviously, we’re a really close family,” Sam said. “Now that they are here (in the final), I try to stay out of it. Jack doesn’t have to be told what to do.”
Middle brother Frank missed the championship game since he is committed to playing for the Illinois Lincolns out of Joliet Junior College in the new Midwest Collegiate League, a wood bat summer league for college players. On Saturday night, the Lincolns lost 7-6 at the DuPage Hounds at Benedictine University in Lisle.
Frank, who is transferring from Joliet to Downstate Parkland College for next season, is batting .600 (6-for-10) in four games for the Lincolns (2-5) this season as a second baseman.
Sam batted .262 while starting in 39 of 46 games for Wright State in 2012. He will have surgery this week to repair a torn labrum. He will rehab for the next three to four months, but expects to be healthy for his final college season next spring.
As a young player, Sam said Jack was never left behind when the older brothers played sports.
“He kept up and he would be right there with me,” Sam said. “We are very competitive as a family. Both of our parents are awesome. They stayed with us during everything. No matter what we did, they were behind us.”
Of the three brothers, Jack was the only one to play all four years on the varsity. Sam played three years and Frank played two years. Before high school, the Picchiotti brothers went to all the OPRF summer camps and watched games, some involving Tim Dennehy, who is now an assistant coach in the program.
“The toughest thing is that no matter what, this is our family’s last game with the program,” Sam said. “This program has pretty much changed all of our lives.”
There is a chance more Picchiottis could play for OPRF, but as the sons of Sam, Frank or Jack some day. It can happen. Senior Joe McKune was the winning pitcher in Friday’s state semifinal 31 years after his father, Pat, pitched a no-hitter in the Class AA state quarterfinal for OPRF. Pat earned the win in an 11-0 five-inning victory over Lincoln.