Photo by Jeff Vorva
Oak Lawn graduate Chris Chigas pitched 3 1-3 innings in the Windy City Thunderbolts season opener last Thursday.
In the first inning of the first game of the season, a fan sitting in the stands behind home plate bellowed “Bring in Chigas.’’
Two innings later, Chigas was brought in.
Chris Chigas, the lone player on the Windy City Thunderbolts from the area (a Bridgeview native who went to Oak Lawn Community High School) came into the season-opening Frontier League game against the Joliet Slammers in the third inning when starting pitcher Dan Child experienced discomfort in his elbow after throwing warmup pitches last Thursday.
The local lefthander entered the game with a score knotted at 3-3 and left the game after 3 1-3 innings of work with the score tied at 5-5 and the Thunderbolts went on to win, 6-5 in front of a crowd of 1,435 at Standard Bank Park.
“I got the call and I had to get hot real quick,” Chigas said. “(Manager Ron Biga) said ‘you’re going’ and I said ‘I’m ready.’ I didn’t need much time. I felt good. I hung in there. I felt great for the first time being out there.’’
Chigas gave up two runs on seven hits with no walks and two strikeouts in his stint.
“For a kid in his first professional game – he did outstanding,” Biga said. “It’s tough to come in and a lot of young kids want to come in and try to throw balls as hard as they can. He’s not that kind of pitcher. He mixes things up. Mr. Chigas did a hell of a job.’’
The 23-year-old Chigas will serve as the team’s long reliever.
Since graduating from Oak Lawn in 2010, he attended three colleges but decided to concentrate on baseball. He was released after training camp by the Florence Freedom last year and tried out for the Thunderbolts in March and made the roster.
“It’s a lot faster-paced game and I’m getting up to speed with it,” Chigas said.
Ransom LaLonde hit a three-run homer in the second and Coco Johnson’s sixth-inning single brought home Cody Keefer with what turned out to be the winning run. Brandon Boyle picked up the win and Cam Giannini recorded the save.
Bolts take two from Florence
After the opening day win, the T-Bolts headed to Florence, Kentucky and won two out of three games against the Freedom.
In Friday’s series opener, Reggie Lawson’s second-inning homer was the only run for the team in a 7-1 setback.
Windy City roared back the next day with a 7-2 win as Coco Johnson had three hits and two runs to lift his average to .500.
On Sunday, Kevin Barker drove in Johnny Eierman in the 12th for a 4-3 T-Bolts victory. It was the first time since 2014, Windy City played beyond 10 innings as the Thunderbolts were 1-6 in extra-inning games last year – all 10-inning games.