Morgan Park claims school's first city championship

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

CHICAGO – Morgan Park has been on quite a roll recently. In the winter, the South Side school won a state basketball championship. After Saturday’s convincing 9-5 win over Taft at UIC’s pristine new Curtis Granderson Stadium, the Mustangs claimed the school’s first Chicago Public League championship.

Morgan Park (19-7-1), which lost in the city championship game last year to Simeon, broke open a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the fifth and never looked back.

The athletic Mustangs ran Taft (26-5) into the ground, swiping 11 bases in the game. Senior centerfielder James Davison, who is one of the most exciting players in the state, led the Mustangs with four stolen bases. He also collected two hits, walked once and scored two runs. The Howard JC recruit set the tone in the first inning when he lined a single, stole second and third, and scored on a wild pitch. He also induced a balk after a walk, then stole second, and scored on Elijah McKinnis’ single in the third inning. Davison capped off his day with a bunt single in which he got down the line in 3.65 seconds.

Davison, however, was far from Morgan Park’s lone star of the game. When Taft rallied for four runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game at 4-4, the Mustangs responded with four runs on five hits in the bottom half of the inning. Left-handed hitting sophomore Christian Bullock ripped a two-run single in the inning, and sophomore catcher Josh Shaw followed with a run-scoring triple. Bullock, a Michigan recruit, finished 1-for-1 with two walks, two stolen bases, two RBI and a run.

Shortstop Lavar Reed finished 2-for-4 with a run-scoring double in Morgan Park’s three-run third inning, two runs scored and two stolen bases. McKinnis, the starting pitcher, also added two hits on the afternoon. McKinnis cruised through four innings, allowing no runs and one hit while pounding the strike zone. Then the bottom fell out in the fifth inning, when he walked three and a defensive miscue didn’t help, either. Coach Ernie Radcliffe went to the pen after Taft tied the game at 4-4, summoning sophomore right-hander Jarren Norman, who stopped the bleeding.

Taft, who rallied late to upend Kenwood in the semifinals, couldn’t pull off another comeback against Norman, although the Eagles scored once in the seventh. The lone bright spot for Taft was sophomore left-handed pitcher Jack Suwinski. The 6-foot-, 170-pound two-way standout finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, including a two-run shot to the left-center gap that tied the score at 4-4 in the fifth. Suwinski had three of Taft’s four hits in the game.

And although Suwinski walked six and allowed six hits, he showed good promise on the mound, sitting 81-84 with his fastball. Problem was, once a Morgan Park runner got on, the Mustangs were off and running. Pinch-runner Darius Hill, another sophomore, also swiped three bases for the Mustangs.

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