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Baseball: Oak Lawn seeks to right ship as playoffs loom

By Steve Millar
Correspondent

Oak Lawn junior Jack McGlynn has been unable to do much of what he loves the most this season. A partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm has prevented him from pitching, but for seven innings early in the year.

McGlynn was coming off an impressive sophomore season during which he made seven starts for the Spartans, going 2-2 with a 2.36 ERA.

“It’s terrible not being able to pitch,” McGlynn said. “That’s my life right now. I went from being an all-conference pitcher as a sophomore to only pitching seven innings this season.

“It’s tough. It’s taken a big toll on me; but it’s just about the bat now. I’ve got to keep working on the bat.”

McGlynn has found a way to contribute in a big way for the Spartans. Serving as the team’s designated hitter, he’s been in the middle of the lineup all season, often in the cleanup spot.

Entering this week, he led Oak Lawn in RBIs with 16. He’s hit two home runs, scored 16 runs and is batting .288.

“I did not do well with the bat last season,” he said. “I guess because I was focused more on pitching. This year, I’ve been focused on hitting the ball to the right side. I like to drive in runners. I like to help my team.”

McGlynn doubled and scored a run May 14, but the host Spartan’s late-season struggles continued as they fell, 10-3, to Oak Forest in a South Suburban Conference crossover.

“We’ve been working hard all season,” McGlynn said. “It’s not going our way right now, unfortunately. It’s getting hotter and it’s getting rough on us late in the season.

“We’ve worked hard, though, and I actually see us going far in the playoffs. I see the talent on the team. We’re a good team when we’re up.”

On April 28, the Spartans were 12-5-1 and coming off a strong two-week stretch that was highlighted by two-game sweeps of rivals Evergreen Park and Richards, and a tie with Catholic League Blue power Mount Carmel.

Since then, though, Oak Lawn (14-11-1, 10-6 entering this week) has lost six of eight and likely fallen out of the South Suburban Red championship race.

“I want to see more energy from the guys,” Oak Lawn coach Bill Gerny said. “It was cold for so long and then it’s 95 degrees and you think everybody would be excited to come out and play, but for some reason it just killed us.

“Hopefully these guys pull together and we do something special. I think there’s still time for that.”

Steven Hebel, Austin Zernia and Charlie Cizek each had an RBI single against the Bengals. The Spartans, though, were held to just five hits, the others being McGlynn’s double and a single from Ivan Gonzalez.

The Spartans were scheduled to play six games over a busy final eight days of the regular season, starting with a two-game series with conference leader Reavis on Monday and Tuesday.

Those same Rams are who Oak Lawn will open the postseason against May 26 in a Class 4A Brother Rice Regional semifinal.

Reavis is seeded eighth and Oak Lawn ninth in the Reavis Sectional. The winner will likely play top-seeded Brother Rice in the regional final.

“We have time to turn this around and do something big in the playoffs,” McGlynn said. “We’re playing Reavis in the first round — rivals. Then if we win that, we play Brother Rice — No. 1 in the state. We just have to play loose.”

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