Reavis players celebrate after the Rams clinched the South Suburban Red title with a 3-0 win over Oak Lawn. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Reavis players celebrate after the Rams clinched the South Suburban Red title with a 3-0 win over Oak Lawn. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Baseball | Red-hot Reavis looks to make noise in postseason

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By Xavier Sanchez
Correspondent

Reavis is determined to send their head coach Don Erickson into retirement on a high note and will head into the postseason red hot and as South Suburban Red champions.

The Rams defeated Oak Lawn 3-0 for the second straight day on May 15 to clinch the conference title.

They followed the win over the Spartans with a 12-2 romp over Hillcrest to finish the league slate at 18-1. Reavis was 28-4 overall entering this week and was riding a 13-game winning streak, and has won 18 of its past 19 games.

Dennis Muraida led the way on the mound for the Rams versus the Spartans, pitching a seven-inning complete game while allowing two hits and striking out four.

“He’s great,” Reavis junior second baseman Tino Villagomez said of Muraida. “Every time he comes out he dominates and does what he needs to do.

“And he is a good hype man: When he is in the dugout, he hypes us up.”

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Reavis pitcher Dennis Muraida allowed only two hits in a 3-0 complete-game win over Oak Lawn on May 15. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Rams third baseman Jonathan Liesen went 2-for-3 with a double, walk and two RBI, while Villagomez also collected two hits and scored twice. Designated hitter Juan Avila was the only other Ram to get a hit with his lone single.

Erickson has led the Rams baseball program for 33 years and has announced he will retire after this season.

Villagomez said he has enjoyed his time playing with a coach as respected and knowledgeable as Erickson. 

“It means a lot,” Villagomez said of what it means to him to play for Erickson. “It’s fun and, especially since it is Coach’s last year, we want to come out and give him the best results.” 

Erickson believes this year’s team is the best defensive team he has coached in his long career. The combination of defense and pitching has carried them to  victories this season.

“We play sound defense and our pitchers throw strikes,” Erickson said. “We did not give up any free passes (to Oak Lawn), which makes it tough on the other team.”

Spartans starting pitcher Nate Banko allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits while walking three over the first two innings. 

Reavis Baseball Don Erickson TinoVillagomez scaled

Reavis coach Don Erickson (center) is in his 33rd and final season leading the Rams. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Things cooled down from there offensively for the Rams as the Spartans bullpen was nearly untouchable.

“The nice thing is that the two guys that game in were underclassmen,” Oak Lawn coach William Gerny said of sophomore relievers Josh McGlynn and Eli Kulpinski.

McGlynn pitched two scoreless innings while walking two batters and striking out three, while Kulpinski finished the game while tossing two scoreless innings while allowing one hit to go with a walk and strikeout.

Although the wins have not come consistently this season for the Spartans (14-16, 10-9), he is glad to see his team — composed largely of underclassmen — stay competitive after facing an early deficit.

“A lot of guys are young,” Gerny said of the Spartans. “It is good that we are not just folding after giving up a couple early runs and competing for the entire game.”

Senior first baseman Charlie Cizek and junior left fielder Peyton Melnik had Oak Lawn’s only two hits, both singles. 

The Spartans follows the two-game set with Reavis with wins over South Suburban Blue teams Bremen and Hillcrest, and losses to De La Salle and Oak Forest.

Reavis Baseball Tino Villagomez

Reavis junior Tino Villagomez looks toward the outfield as he rounds third base during a 3-0 win over Oak Lawn on May 15. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

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