Oakville JV baseball squad puts together one impressive season
By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
They may not get all the glory and recognition as their varsity teammates, but members of the Oakville junior varsity American Legion baseball team have put together one impressive season.
"As far as our year goes, it's been pretty successful," Head Coach Matt Boyer told the Call. "We've got a lot of talent on the team and for the most part we've played up to that talent level. In the games that we lost, we kind of beat ourselves."
Oakville (26-8) opened up the district tournament this past weekend with a 12-8 setback to Ballwin. One of the reasons for the loss was the nine-run hole that Oakville found itself in after the first inning of action, according to Boyer.
The deficit was quite unique for Oakville as the team had Matt Pressler on the mound, who was 9-0 at the time with an outstanding 1.69 earned run average.
Before the Ballwin game, Pressler lead the team in strikeouts (54) and kept opponents to a chilling .158 batting average.
"Matt's done the job for us all season," Boyer explained. "Everything that he threw over the plate, they seemed to find a hole. It really didn't go our way in the first inning."
Oakville rebounded from the loss on Sunday with an 8-2 win over Eureka, which kept the hopes of a district championship still alive.
"We had games against Eureka this season where we've gone back and forth," Boyer said. "But they were on the short end of pitching and we took control of the game in the fourth inning and ended up winning 8-2."
Starting pitcher Brian Randolph pitched a complete game of seven innings in the winning effort. In those seven innings pitched, Randolph threw just 73 pitches.
"Brian pitched a really good game," Boyer said. "He's the type of kid that's going to throw strikes and make the play. He's a really good competitor."
Later in the afternoon on Sunday, Oakville found itself in a rematch with Ballwin and once again came up short in a 7-6 loss.
"We were expected to win and everyone kept telling us that we were the best team in the district," Boyer said. "The chips this weekend just didn't seem to fall our way."
Oakville starting pitcher Pat Doyle demonstrated the true grit and determination of this year's team after getting hit on the knee by a line drive hit in the fifth inning.
"Pat threw one heck of a game," Boyer said. "In the fifth inning he got hit by a line drive on the side of the knee and gets back up and ends up finishing the game."
Doyle has been one of the cornerstones of the Oakville pitching staff this season with a 5-1 mark in which he carried a 2.06 earned run average. He was third on the team in strikeouts (26) and held his opponents to a .150 batting average.
Despite the loss to Ballwin in districts, Oakville had many bright spots on this season's team including catcher/third baseman Casey Jones who was one of the team's top offensive threats.
In fact, he's been one of the top offensive threats in the area with a .468 batting average, which placed him second in the district.
His five home runs led the district this season, while his 31 runs batted in gave him runners-up honors.
Jones was also second in the district in slugging percentage (.844) and ranked third in doubles (10).
"Casey's been an offensive force for us all year," Boyer said. "I can't say enough about his offensive skills."
Catcher/shortstop Greg Dambach was also a force at the plate for Oakville with a .465 batting average. Dambach also drove in 29 runs on 33 hits and led the team in triples (5) this season.
"He basically got hot the last couple of weeks here," Boyer said. "It's really hard to keep his bat out of the lineup because whenever he's up at the plate, he gives you a good, quality at-bat."
Oakville returns to action this Tuesday evening at Heine Meine as they play the Lemay American Legion junior varsity squad in a game that will be of quite significance.
During the game, Heine Meine's new lights will be dedicated in a pregame ceremony. The new lights are possible through the contributions of the St. Louis Cardinals' Care program. Such Cardinal dignitaries as former player and current broadcaster Mike Shannon will be present for the event.
The game is slated for an 8:30 p.m. start.