Oakville High baseball team finishes regular season on strong note

By STEPHEN GLOVER

The Oakville Senior High School baseball team finished the 2006 regular season on a strong note with a 7-1 win over Eureka.

The win for the Tigers (13-7, 5-3 Suburban West) capped the regular season as Oakville won eight of its last 10 games.

“This was an opportunity for us to face some top pitching from a top-notch team in Eureka,” Oakville head coach Rich Sturm told the Call. “Our approach at the plate at the beginning of the game was not that good, and I, along with my assistant coaches, really got on the kids.”

The Tigers were scoreless in the first three innings as they trailed the Wildcats 1-0 going into the top of the fourth inning.

But a two-run homer by third baseman Dan Rohlfing gave Oakville a 2-1 lead, which was enough to get things going for the Tigers. Rohlfing was one-for-three at the plate with two runs scored and two runs batted in. The junior infielder also drew a walk as he kept a tight grip on his .400 batting average with 16 runs batted in. He currently leads the Tigers with sev-en doubles this season.

“It (Rohlfing’s home run) was a blast,” Sturm said. “Ballwin’s left-field power alley is about 370 feet, and he hit it about 20 yards past that. When he’s locked in, he’s always a threat to put the ball out of the park.”

Oakville starting pitcher Pat Doyle grabbed his fifth win of the season, giving up just one run in four innings. Doyle also struck out five batters and walked none as the senior hurler upped his record to 5-1 overall this season with a 1.25 earned run average.

“Pat hadn’t thrown in eight days, but he looked sharp,” Sturm said. “He really seemed to be in command of the situation and in control of the pitch count. This was a good tuneup game for him for districts.”

Doyle was relieved in the fifth inning by senior Matt Pressler, who gave up just one hit. Pressler earned his second save of the season as he struck out four Eureka batters. He’s currently 4-3 overall with a 3.47 earned run average.

“Matt’s last three appearances have been really strong,” Sturm said. “He’s not falling behind in the count, which really makes him dangerous on the mound.”

Besides Rohlfing’s two-run shot in the third inning, the Tigers’ Chris Kaestner was solid at the plate with a three-for-four performance that included one run scored and two runs driven in. The senior catcher is batting a solid .280 with nine runs driven in. Those nine runs driven in have come in just 25 plate appearances.

“Chris had a severely sprained ankle and missed the first five weeks of the season,” Sturm said. “He’s been our starting catcher in the last three games and has really had some big hits and drove in some runs for us.”

Oakville’s Greg Dambach also had a strong day at the plate with a three-for-three showing with one walk and one run scored. The senior outfielder is holding a strong .339 batting average with 13 runs driven in.

Sturm believes that a couple of recent changes in the batting order have really improved Dambach’s performance at the plate.

“We recently made an adjustment in the lineup and moved Greg from the sixth hole to the five spot,” Sturm explained. “Since we’ve moved him, he’s really been seeing the ball better, and that’s helped solidify the middle part of our lineup.”

Oakville was scheduled to face Mehlville Tuesday — after the Call went to press — in the first round of the District No. 3 Tournament.

The Tigers defeated Mehlville 3-0 on April 18. Mehlville reached the semifinal game of the state championships before dropping a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to DeSmet.

“In the last two years, our district winner has gone on to the Final Four,” Sturm said. “The key to winning districts is to not beat ourselves defensively and for us to get timely hits.”