Fenwick High School has had its share of legendary coaches, including Tony Lawless (football/basketball), Dave Perry (water polo) and Dave Power (girls basketball). Longtime baseball coach Dave Hogan belongs in that prestigious list as well.
As the seventh winningest baseball coach in IHSA history, Hogan captured his 800th win against De La Salle on May 4.
Two days later, Hogan’s career victories mark improved to 802 as the Friars outslugged visiting DePaul College Prep 9-7 on Saturday at the Priory in River Forest.
Hogan, the Fenwick baseball coach for the past 37 years, repeatedly credits longevity and talented players as the reasons for his success.
Fenwick (19-11) appears as talented as ever this spring with a cadre of gifted players. Several of them came up big Saturday, powering the Friars’ rally from a 7-2 deficit to victory.
The Rams chased Fenwick starting pitcher John Murphy with five runs in two innings. Fenwick reliever Charlie Wood came in during the top of the second and closed the door. DePaul Prep tacked on two more runs in the third, extending the lead to 7-2.
After a sluggish four innings offensively, the Friars exploded for six runs in the fifth to take an 8-7 lead.
Alex Pup led off the fifth with a single. With runners on first and second, Fenwick senior/Northwestern commit Casey O’Laughlin crushed a triple into left field scoring two runs. Two more hits whittled the Friars’ deficit to one, at 7-6, and also removed DePaul Prep pitcher Jimmy Montijo from the game. Fenwick tied the game at 7-7 on another key hit. The Friars scored the lead run on a balk by a DePaul Prep reliever.
Fenwick added an insurance run in the sixth to hold a 9-7 advantage.
Although the Rams dominated most of the early action, the Friars led 2-1 after one inning courtesy of Jack Grace’s two-RBI hit.
With eight wins in their last 10 games and first place in the Chicago Catholic League White Division, the Friars are peaking at the right time of the season.
“With our recent success, we’re up in (Class) 4A now,” Hogan said. “We are more than capable of making another deep playoff run. We’re 19-11 but with a bounce here and there, we could easily be 26-4. If we put all three aspects of pitching, offense and defense together, we control our own fate.”
While Fenwick can be formidable in many ways, the offense has been particularly impressive.
“As a club we are hitting about .370,” Hogan said. “We’re always high and ready for the big games. We knew we would be low today considering the (DePaul Prep) talent level isn’t as high as other teams. DePaul Prep always lingers and get through our order a few times and made adjustments at the plate.”
With Saturday’s loss, DePaul Prep fell to 7-20 this spring.
As for the Friars’ short-term outlook, it’s decidedly more optimistic than the Rams.
“We have a very similar team to our 2015 team which was very successful in the playoffs,” O’Laughlin said. “The CCL always does well in the tournament. Playing teams like St. Rita, Mount Carmel and Brother Rice gives us experience heading into the playoffs. If we stay positive and play to our potential, 4A can be ours.”
Sophomore standout Luke Kolovitz offers a similar assessment of the Friars’ upside.
“We’ve been able to hit well our last three games. If we don’t give up and stick with what we do best, we’ll be good in the playoffs.”
In fact, the Fenwick baseball program has reached its zenith in recent years. Last season, the Friars advanced all the way to the Class 3A quarterfinals. In 2015, Fenwick won conference and regional championships. The Friars won a sectional title in 2014.
With a star-studded lineup including SS/2B Anthony Cavalieri, 3B/1B Harrison Hayes, C Mike Cerceo, O’Laughlin, Grace, and Pup, among others, another postseason run is possible. Fenwick also boasts good pitching depth with quality arms in Justin Sosa, Marty Stein, Ian Crowell, K.J. Slepicka, Joey Atkins and Murphy.