Oak Lawn Community High School head baseball coach William Gerny had an idea that this year’s Spartans were going to need a challenge in order to reach their goals. With eight returning starters, the Oak Lawn baseball team is poised to make a run at the South Suburban Conference Red championship that eluded them last year.
However, the road to a conference championship will take a slight detour through Alabama. During spring break, the Spartans will travel to Hoover, Ala., for the Buccaneer Classic, and with six games in three days, the Spartans will need contributions from everyone. After a travel day on Tuesday, March 28, the Spartans will square off against Shelby County, Chelsea, and Helena for varsity games and Hewitt, Pratville, and Hartselle in junior varsity games.
The Spartans return their entire pitching staff from the 2022 season: seniors Jack McGlynn, Cristian Ruiz, and KJ Mallo, and junior Ethan Collins. Newcomers junior Brett Gatch, and freshmen John Olejniczak and Jack Dempsey are also expected to contribute on the mound.
“The baseball team has been fundraising since the fall to go on a trip to Alabama, and we have met our goal after a lot of hard work and dedication,” McGlynn said. “Coach Gerny has been a huge help from the start by helping us set up fundraisers and looking for a high-end tournament to compete at. The 2023 Spartans are looking better than ever and ready to take over Bama!”
The Spartans also have most of the key components of their lineup returning. Senior Ayham Salah, junior Charlie Cizek, senior Austin Zernia, junior Ivan Gonzalez ’24, and senior Zach McWilliams are ready to improve on their hitting stats from a year ago and help drive the Spartans to wins down south and in the SSC.
The Spartans are currently 2-2 with wins over Brooks and Crete-Monee. Against Crete-Monee, Mallo pitched six innings, allowed two earned runs, and struck out 11. Cizek closed it out by striking out the side. Salah went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double, three runs scored, and two RBI. Gonzales had a triple and an RBI. McGlynn was 2-for-4 with two RBI, and Christian Torres had three stolen bases and two runs scored.
With games against some of the top teams coming up in Alabama, the Spartans are hoping for a memorable experience and to become battle tested. The Spartans are hoping this leads to a conference championship and historic success in the Illinois High School Association State Playoffs. It all really starts next week in Alabama.
“We’re on a business trip,” said senior outfielder Mike Vittori.
The business trip begins Tuesday morning as they board the bus and head south.