Harper comeback falls short against Oakton

Trailing by 9 runs with three outs left, the Harper College baseball team almost did the unthinkable Thursday afternoon in Palatine.

The Raiders asked reliever Joseph Markus to shut the door with Oakton leading 15-6.

Harper’s Brett Sklena had other ideas, and started the inning by walking. Shortstop John Caravia singled, and with Hawks on first and second base, Dan Duran singled to plate Sklena. Duran finished 3-for-6 with 2 RBI.

Still with nobody out, Connor McHugh (Schaumburg) doubled to right-center to score Duran and Andrew Skinner.

McHugh reached base five times, collecting 3 hits and 2 RBI.

Unfortunately for Harper, there was just too much self-imposed damage already done. The Hawks committed 8 errors and fell 15-11.

“We committed too many errors, bottom line,” said Harper coach Cliff Brown.

The Raiders got enough timely hitting and good pitching to keep the Hawks off balance. Sophomore starter Troy Mennebach was almost unhittable in his 6 innings, facing 27 batters and striking out seven with 3 walks. When he was not on the mound, the Appleton, Wis., native was able to sit back and watch his offense go to work.

Maine West graduate Ryan Tuntland was Oakton’s catalyst. In his 6 at-bats Tuntland hit safely three times. Tuntland got Oakton on the board first, courtesy of a two out, 2-run first-inning homer.

Tuntland got a second homer in the third inning, this one a solo shot to left.

“I just tried to be patient,” said Tuntland, a sophomore who has signed with West Virginia.

Tyler Palmer — a Florida Marlins fourth-round draft choice in 2011 — collected a pair of singles and walked once with 2 strikeouts for Oakton.

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