Never-say-die Oakton stays alive in tourney

Oakton College’s baseball team broke new ground Saturday, picking up a record 43rd victory in NJCAA Division II Region IV tournament play on Saturday in Madison, Wis.

The Raiders started the four-team, double-elimination tourney Friday with a heartbreaking loss against top-seed Madison. Oakton led by a run in the bottom of the eighth but ended up losing 3-2.

On Saturday morning, Oakton avenged a series sweep to Kankakee with a 9-1 victory as Kenny Lowden threw a 7-hitter with 6 strikeouts and 1 walk. But in an afternoon elimination game with Black Hawk, things looked bleak for Oakton, which trailed 6-2 in the seventh.

The situation improved when Brett Synek (5-for-5) narrowed the gap with a 2-run homer.

And then came the breakthrough: With two outs in the eighth inning, Oakton managed to scored 9 more runs on the way to a 13-6 victory.

“This team has been pretty special all year,” said Oakton coach Bill Fratto. “They just don’t quit.”

Against Blackhawk, Connor Skoczynski went 3-for-6 with 2 RBI, Ryan Tuntland was 2-for-5 with a double and Dan Lauria was 3-for-5. Tyler Seibert earned the win with 3 innings of relief.

Lauria had 3 RBI and Stoczynski had 2 RBI against Kankakee.

Oakton (43-18) faces a tough challenge Sunday. Fratto isn’t sure who will start at noon against Madison (42-11), which can afford a loss without being eliminated. If Oakton is able to win the first game, Troy Mannebach would start the following game, which would decide who represents the region in the NJCAA national tournament in Oklahoma.

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