Oakville Senior High baseball team running like a well-oiled machine

By STEPHEN GLOVER

With the District No. 3 tournament just weeks away, the Oakville Senior High School baseball team is running like a well-oiled machine.

The Tigers (10-5, 5-2 Suburban West) have won their last five games, putting them into a possible tie for the Suburban West Conference championship. That hinges on Monday’s meeting with conference leader Parkway South — after the Call went to press.

If the Tigers defeat Parkway South, they essentially could be in a three-way tie with the Patriots and Lafayette for the conference championship. That in itself has Oakville head coach Rich Sturm praising the progress of his team this season.

“Things are going pretty well for us,” Sturm told the Call. “Obviously, you want to be hitting your stride by districts, and I think we’re getting there. We’re doing all of the little things we need to do in order to win.”

The Tigers pounded out five runs in the third inning Friday to defeat DeSmet 5-4.

Oakville starting pitcher Matt Pressler threw a complete game of seven innings, giving up four runs on seven hits. The senior hurler also struck out four and walked three in his third win of the 2006 campaign. Pressler is 3-3 overall with a 4.20 earned run average.

“This was by far Matt’s best effort against a quality offensive team,” Sturm said. “He really made some big pitches for us when he had to.”

Tiger third baseman Dan Rohlfing drove in three runs on one triple as he upped his runs-batted-in total to 12. The junior corner man is batting .419 overall with a team-leading six doubles and two triples.

“Dan’s been outstanding defensively at third base,” Sturm said. “There may be some third basemen that are as good, but nobody that’s better than him.”

Oakville second baseman Ronnie Ballard drove in the Tigers’ two other runs on a double in the fifth.

The senior is batting a solid .270 with five doubles, one triple, one home run and eight runs batted in.

“At the start of the season, Ronnie struggled a bit,” Sturm said. “Lately, he’s been hitting the ball extremely hard and has really refined his swing. He’s hitting the ball with some authority.”

The Tigers are back in action Friday afternoon when they play host to Webster Groves in the Suburban South/West Tournament. The Tigers dropped a 7-6 decision to the Statesmen in the first game of the 2006 season when Webster Groves (8-10, 3-4 Suburban South) scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to overcome a 6-2 deficit.

A win or a loss against the Statesmen will directly affect the Tigers as Webster Groves and Oakville are in the same district. Both teams will be jockeying for a high seed in the district tournament.

“I don’t know how our kids are going to look at that game,” Sturm said, referring to the rematch with the Statesmen. “I feel like our kids have something to prove. We’re going to try to use this game as a preparation for the district tournament.”