No. 35 Oak Lawn finds inspiration, downs Morton

By Drake Skleba

OAK LAWN – No. 35 Oak Lawn opened its 2012 campaign on a picture-perfect March afternoon with a 5-2 victory over Morton in a game called because of darkness after five and a half innings. Oak Lawn senior RHP Nick Mozwecz threw four innings of shutout baseball. Mozwecz allowed just two hits and struck out eight Morton batters to pick up his first victory of the season.

 “I thought I pitched well tonight,” said Mozwecz. “It was great to just call coach Clifton and give him the news of our victory. He is going through some tough times.”

Oak Lawn assistant coach Tim Lyons, in his second year at Oak Lawn after his highly successful tenure at Brother Rice, brought out an old friend from his Rice days. In the top of the first inning with Morton runners on first and second and two outs, Lyons went to his bag of tricks.

 Moswecz appeared to try to pick off the Morton runner on second. The entire Oak Lawn infield and outfield reacted like Moswecz had thrown the ball into centerfield. Much to the dismay of the Morton runner who had broke for third, Mozwecz had the ball and threw to senior SS Alec Barnhart. Barnhart then delivered a throw to senior 3B Steve Yacko, who tagged out the bewildered Mustang baserunner.

Oak Lawn struck for two runs in the bottom of the third. With senior 2B Cody Quillen at first base, having singled and courtesy runner senior Dan Townsend at third, Quillen attempted a steal of second base. When the throw bounced in the dirt at second, Townsend streaked home with the first run of the game. With two outs, senior 1B Bob Kametas ripped a clutch RBI double scoring Quillen.

“I was very excited to be playing on such a beautiful day,” said Kametas. “I was really happy to drive in that run and get the victory for Nick.”

Oak Lawn picked up three unearned runs in the fourth to open up a 5-0 lead. The Spartans scored on an RBI single by senior RF Cody Marek, a bases loaded walk to junior DH Chris Rafacz (1-for-3, RBI, BB, SB) and a Mustang miscue.

Mustang starting pitcher, senior Joe Kadela (0-1), deserved a better fate. Kadela allowed one earned run in 3 2/3 innings of work. Kadela had eight strikeouts, five in succession, between the first and third inning.

In the top of the sixth, Mustang senior Tahavis Fleenor (2-for-3, 2B, 2RBI), launched a two-run double for the Mustangs lone runs. After the third out of the inning was made, the men in blue sent everyone home.

“It feels to great to get the win for coach Clifton, who is going through some trying times,” said Quillen. “I got on base three times today which is my job as our leadoff man. I think we have a great team that is rallying behind coach Clifton.”

Morton hopes to bounce back at Reavis on Thursday at 4:30.

“We battled today but it’s not fun to lose,” said Morton head coach Scott Horodecki. “Joe (Kadela) pitched well for us and Tehavis (Fleenor), when he connects, the ball goes a long way."

Oak Lawn will host No. 9 St. Rita at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The Spartans hope to derail the tough Mustangs. The Spartans look to beat St. Rita for just the second time in 22 years.

“It was OK for a first game. I am happy the way we played defense today," said Spartan assistant head coach Brian Brandt. “Nick (Mozwecz) pitched great for us today. Nick was all-conference last year as a junior and we expect good things from Nick this spring.”

Reporter’s Note:  Everyone here at the Prep Baseball Report sends our heart-felt best wishes to Oak Lawn head coach Brian Clifton’s’ son Tommy, who is battling a serious illness. Get well Tommy!