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Oakville Senior High School pitcher Eric Brewer displays his winning form during the Tigers' 18-1 win over Fox last Friday evening. Bill Milligan photo (click for larger version)

Oakville boys' baseball back on track with 18-1 domination of Fox Warriors

After suffering back-to-back losses, the boys' baseball team at Oakville Senior High needed to find a way to hammer out a win.

The Tigers (2-2) dropped a 10-0 decision to Lindbergh and a heartbreaking 7-5 loss to Mehlville in the second and third games of the 2004 season. So it was important for Oakville head coach Rich Sturm to get his team back to the .500 mark.

They did just that with an 18-1 bombing of Fox.

"After the Mehlville game, I kind of was hoping that we would take the next step, which I think we did," Sturm told the Call.

The host Tigers found themselves down 1-0 after the top of the first inning and they immediately answered the Warriors' run with a 13-run outburst in the bottom of the first.

"We keep telling our kids that consistency is the key," Sturm said. "We get after them to be physically and mentally ready every day."

Oakville junior second baseman Vinny Gualdoni had one of the more productive days at the plate, despite coming into the game during the latter innings of the game. Gualdoni was 3-3 at the plate with one run batted in.

"Vinny's a great kid," Sturm said. "We got the big lead. It was a great opportunity to get him into the game and we were really happy for him."

Tigers shortstop Ryan Gray also had a stout day at the plate with two doubles, which drove in two runs. The senior is part of a unique combination of batters of which Sturm has tailored his batting lineup.

"Ryan's a line-drive and gap-style hitter," Sturm explained. "We moved him (Gray) from third to fifth in the lineup, which gives us a right-, left-, right-, left-, right-handed batting order in the lineup."

The Tigers added on to their overwhelming lead in the second inning with three more runs to bring the score to 16-1. They then added another two runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a commanding 18-1 lead.

Senior Eric Brewer has been one of the hottest hitters in the area with an impressive .625 batting average. The Tigers' starting first baseman tacked the Warriors for a double and a walk as he went 1-2 at the plate while driving in two runs.

"Eric's been just unbelievable," Sturm said. "We've been working really hard with him to drive the ball into left field this year. He's such a big kid who generates a lot of bat speed."

Driving in the lone home run of the game was Oakville sophomore Casey Jones. The designated hitter and catcher drove in two runs and had one walk.

"Casey has tremendous power and bat speed," Sturm said. "He started the game as the DH and I put him behind the plate for the fourth and fifth innings."

On top of the Tigers' win was junior starting pitcher Andy Marks, who pitched three solid innings where he gave up just one unearned run on two hits. Marks struck out four and walked one, in his second win of the season.

"Andy's pitched eight innings so far with no earned runs," Sturm said. "The only run he gave up against Fox was unearned."

After taking a couple days off for spring break, the Tigers are back in action Wednesday, April 7, against Eureka.

The Wildcats are picked by many to win the Suburban South Conference and Sturm believes that his Tigers have a good shot at beating Eureka. That is, if the Tigers don't beat themselves.

"Obviously, Eureka is picked by a lot of people to win our conference," Sturm said.

"They're a very talented team. But if we go out and play our game and don't beat ourselves, we're a tough team to beat ... I think it's going to be a good test for us."

The Tigers' showdown against Eureka is slated for a 4:15 p.m. start.

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