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Arrogance ‘in a good way’ helps Oak Park win first state baseball title since ’81

Oak Park players run off the field after beating Grant in the state semifinals. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

Oak Park players run off the field after beating Grant in the state semifinals. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

Oak Park River Forest High School’s baseball team needed a seventh-inning single from Mike Brennan to score Jack Picchiotti to set off a wild celebration as the Huskies won the Illinois High School Association Class 4A title Saturday night.
The Huskies nipped defending state champion Lyons Township, 4-3, at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. Lyons was denied the opportunity to become the first team since Maine in 1958 and 1959 to win back-to-back baseball titles.
The Huskies have a rich baseball history but only won titles in 1942 and 1981.

Oak Park fans had a lot to cheer about over the weekend as the Huskies won the Class 4A state baseball title. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

Still, they came into the 2012 postseason ready for a title.
While many strong programs were upset in regional and sectional action, the Huskies won three wild postseason games heading into the state semifinals including a 2-1 win over Evanston, an 8-7 win over New Trier, a 10-8 slugfest over Maine South and a 2-0 pitcher’s dual win over Highland Park.
“They were very confident and arrogant in a good way not in a negative way,” Huskies coach Chris Ledbetter said. “They knew they couldn’t overlook anybody. They were mature week in and week out about it.”
The Huskies finished the season at 30-9-1.
Other members on the Huskies roster include seniors Jack Belcaster, Dan Shinsako, Joe Romoro, Jack Johanesson, Zach Weigel, Max Guzzetta, Colin O’Brien, Joe McKune, Matt McCormack and Mike Adams plus juniors Charlie Fencik, Henry Pine, Dain Mrozek, Henry Cappel, Patrick Clifford, Ryan Nelson, Nick Kowalczuk and Sam Munno.

Matt McCormack, 21, kicks up a load of dust on a play at the plate against Grant. He was ruled out but the Huskies still won the game and the state tournament. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

Sophomores Sam Cottingham-Beard and Alex Rice were also on the roster.
Lyons was a fifth seed in its sectional and wasn’t expected to return to the final four. But the Lions made it to the title game and played even with the Huskies for six innings.
Evan Booth, pitcher Steve Heilenbach and Brad Taylor each had two hits for the Lions in the title game.
Grant finished third thanks to a 7-1 victory over Minooka to finish 26-12 and to bring home the baseball program’s first state trophy. Tino Torres had two hits in a six-run fourth inning to help the Bulldogs to the victory.
In Class 3A, Nazareth Academy claimed third place with a 2-1 victory over Troy Triad.
Ryan Marske homered for the Roadrunners (31-10) and Dominic Purpura pitched the victory. Last year, the Roadrunners finished fourth.
Marian Catholic won the state title in 3A with a 10-2 victory over LaSalle Peru.

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