One day as a kid, Oak Forest’s Justin Gibbs decided to throw left-handed instead of right. ‘And it just clicked.’

Oak Forest’s Justin Gibbs can easily pin down the moment that catapulted his baseball career.

When he was 8 or 9 years old, Gibbs made a dramatic switch that started on the baseball field and carried over to the rest of his life.

“I used to be right-handed,” Gibbs said. “One day I just tried throwing left-handed, and it just clicked. It felt right. That’s when I really started becoming a good pitcher.”

And Gibbs, a junior pitcher/infielder, is putting together a dominant season on the mound.

It continued Tuesday afternoon as he threw a complete game, lifting the Bengals to a 5-1 South Suburban Blue win over T.F. South in Lansing.

Gibbs allowed just four hits, struck out six and walked four. He also went 2-for-3 with a run for the Bengals (24-6, 14-2), who acted as the home team in a game that was moved from Oak Forest due to field conditions.

Wisconsin-Oshkosh recruit Mateo Gamboa went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Roosevelt commit Christian DeGroot, Andrew Lucas and Grant Fletcher added RBI singles for Oak Forest, which took command of the SSC Blue race with the win.

Moraine Valley recruit Moises Mata homered for T.F. South (16-11, 10-4), while Prairie State commit Jake Stachelski went 2-for-3 and Alcorn State recruit Khanon Gresham added a double.

Gibbs improved his record to 5-2 with a 1.08 ERA and strikeouts in 39 innings.

“I was up and down between varsity and junior varsity last year, and I didn’t really make the kind of impact I wanted to,” Gibbs said. “I knew this was going to be my year.

“I worked really hard all offseason to get better and be ready to make an impact for my team.”

And he’s doing it left-handed. In fact, he does most things that way now.

“I used to write right-handed,” Gibbs said. “I used to do almost everything right-handed. Now, I do almost everything left-handed.

“It was definitely weird at first making a switch like that, and when I was young I didn’t really know what to do with it, but it’s paid off with baseball, especially.”

Gibbs’ teammates and coaches are seeing an entirely new person in his first varsity season.

“I remember catching him in one game last season when he came up to varsity,” DeGroot said. “He was really timid. Now, it’s completely different. He goes out there looking to dominate.

“What I saw from him (Tuesday) was a lot of what I’ve been seeing all season. He was locked in, throwing strikes, and his change-up was really good.”

Gibbs had to earn opportunities to pitch for the Bengals on a deep staff.

“He went out there and showed he deserved a spot as a starter,” Oak Forest coach Ronald Czarnecki said. “I give him a lot of credit for that. We’re a 24-6 team, and he’s one of our top three pitchers in his first full varsity season.

“He worked his tail off to get here.”

T.F. South tightened up the SSC Blue race by pulling off a wild 6-5 win over the Bengals on Monday, when Oak Forest scored four times in the top of the seventh to take a 5-2 lead only for the Red Wolves to respond with four in the bottom of the inning.

The Bengals bounced back from the tough defeat by scoring three runs in the first inning Tuesday to take control immediately. DeGroot had the big hit with an RBI single.

“(Monday) was a really tough loss,” DeGroot said. “So, it was huge for us to come out and get momentum early and make sure we got this win.”

Gibbs did the rest.

“Last year, everything got to me,” he said. “I felt like the underdog, the young kid. I was intimidated. Now, I’m so much more confident.”