Late-season surge helps propel Oakville High boys into sectional
By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
Many positive adjectives can describe the Oakville Senior High School baseball team as they competed last week in the District 3 Tournament at Lindbergh High School, capturing the district title.
"We had three really good ball games last week," Oakville Head Coach Rick Seim told the Call. "Everyone stepped up and it was a total team effort."
The Tigers (14-10, 5-2 Suburban South) have made a late-season surge in which they've won seven games in a row. This is a much different scenario than earlier this season when they lost four of their first six games.
Oakville opened the district tournament with a strong 7-4 win over a struggling Mehlville squad that made a late three-run surge in the top of the sixth inning. Tigers' starting pitcher Eric Brewer threw a solid five innings, while giving up three runs on five hits. The junior hurler struck out six, while walking four in the winning effort.
"That was probably his best outing this season," Seim said of Brewer. "He's one of the people on this team that we needed to step up."
Brewer was relieved by senior relief pitcher Jeremy Boyer, who finished the fi-nal two innings of the game, allowing just one run for the save. Boyer came into the game with the bases loaded in the sixth inning with no outs, a task that even Seim realized was difficult.
"Jeremy came in and really shut the door on them," Seim said. "It was a nice game for both him and Eric."
In the district semifinal last Tuesday against Saint Mary's, Oakville starting pitcher Andy Marks was thriving on the opportunity to avenge a 4-3 loss to the Dragons just several weeks ago. The sophomore thrower got his wish as he threw a complete game shutout against St. Mary's in a 1-0 win.
"We knew that it was going to be a low scoring game," Seim said. "Andy wanted the rematch with St. Mary's and when he got into any trouble, he managed a way to get out of it."
The Tigers faced Vianney in the championship game of the district tournament and they didn't have to be reminded of the 20-3 thumping by the Golden Griffins on April 2. In that early season game, Vian-ney pounded out 18 hits, rocking three Oak-ville pitchers for 13 earned runs.
Oakville returned the favor in the re-match as the Tigers came away with a convincing 8-2 win and the district championship.
"Everything was going right for us against them," Seim said. "We perhaps played our best defense all year."
Oakville starting pitcher Chris Pano-poulos threw a complete game of seven innings, allowing just two runs on six hits.
The junior also struck out one batter and walked one.
"I was hoping that he (Panopoulos) would go five innings and just give us a chance to win," Seim said. "He stepped up big for us in that game."
Oakville senior outfielder Chad Vancil was hot at the plate as he went 3-2 and drove in two runs while getting one walk.
"His base hit in the fourth was kind of the knockout blow for us," Seim said. "He's been very consistent for us all year."
Up next for the Tigers will be Marquette today — May 29 — in the sectional championship.The Mustangs placed third in the Suburban West Conference this season with a 16-10 record and Seim knows that if his team sticks to their game plan, they have a good chance at advancing deeper into the playoffs.
"They (Marquette) obviously have a pretty good team," Seim said. "Our philosophy is going to be to go out there and do the best that we can and go from there. I'm hoping that we can come out relaxed with a quiet confidence."
The Marquette game is slated for a 4 p.m. start.