Prep Baseball Report

4A St. Laurence Sectional: St. Laurence Cruises, Joliet Catholic Late Inning Heroics

By: Adam Panayotovich
Area Scout


In game one of a 3A Section Semifinal twinbill at Crestwood’s Ozinga Field, the St. Laurence Vikings defeated the Morris Redskins 15-2 in a shortened 5 inning game. The Vikings received four quality innings from starter Chris Seropian and paired that with a 13-run 3rd inning to move themselves one step closer in the IHSA playoffs.

Seropian was on cruise control most of the game after surrendering a quick run in the first frame. Morris leadoff man, Cole Laurie, drove the first pitch of the game for a double and scored two batters later on an RBI groundout from Jacob Overbeck (Southwestern Illinois JC commit). In the very next inning, Seropian allowed the first two runners to reach base only to strike out the side ending any threat. He would finish his final two innings facing the minimum ending his day with a line: W, 4IP, 4H, ER, 7K, BB (42 of 59 for strikes).

Morris senior RHSP Luke Olbrot seemed to have the Vikings number through a quiet first two innings. Then the top of the third arrived and with it came eighteen plate appearances and thirteen St. Laurence runs. Kevin McCormick, Luke Montgomery and Marc Babicz all collected two hits in the inning, while McCormick, Montgomery, Jake Vera and Matt McCormick (West Virginia commit) all scored twice. Montgomery and Babicz were the lone VIkings two drive in multiple runs in the frame; Babicz headlined the inning with a pair of doubles and five RBI.

St. Laurence wasn’t done with the scoring as a two-out rally materialized in the top of the 5th. Vito Valincius reached via a two-out walk and Babicz collected his third hit of the game setting up K. McCormick for a two-run single to centerfield.

Morris put up their final fight in the bottom of the 5th scrapping one run back on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch to leadoff man Laurie scoring Logan Edwards who singled hard through the left side. Viking’s LHP Max Engstrom (Indiana Wesleyan commit), who entered to start the 5th, struck out the final batter of the game earning the save, 15-2 final.

With the win, St. Laurence advances to the Sectional Championship on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at home host site St. Laurence HS against the Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers


+ OF Marc Babicz (St. Laurence): 3-for-4, 2 2B, 2R, 5RBI
+ 3B Kevin McCormick (St. Laurence): 3-for-4, 2R, 3RBI, SB
+ OF Luke Montgomery (St. Laurence): 2-for-4, 2R, 2RBI, SB
+ OF Cole Laurie (Morris): 2-for-2, 2B, R, RBI, HBP


In game two of a 3A Sectional Semifinal double dip at Ozinga Field, the Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers defeated the Tinley Park Titans 6-5 in a thriller of a night cap. Down 5-1 in the top of the 6th inning, the Hilltoppers rallied for a five run frame, four of which came with two outs. Zach Hise slammed the door in relief earning the six-out save punching JCA’s ticket to a 3A Sectional Championship.

Tinley Park starting pitcher Collin Wilma (Southeast Missouri State commit) was in control most of the game as the right-hander allowed only two hits through the first five innings. However, the Hilltoppers did strike first as those two hits were strung together in the third inning as Nate Gehrke singled and later scored on a Jared Cushing (Texas Tech commit) double down the left field line (below).

Joliet Catholic starting pitcher Zak Gould (Illinois-Chicago commit) followed suit as the right-hander didn’t allow a run until the 5th inning avoiding the only threat with help from Mike Gurka in the 2nd. With Tinley Park’s Josh McArthur standing on second after a double, Ryan Grand singled to right field with two outs. McArthur was waved around third and sent home allowing JCA’s Gurka to fire a seed to catcher Gehrke who applied the tag to a surrendering McArthur to end the frame. This would prove crucial as the game would be decided by a single run. Gould would not allow another runner to reach scoring position until the 5th, in which the Titans scored all five of their runs.

Demetri Hamilton led off the Titans fifth with a walk and hastily stole second. Grand then collected his second hit of the game, this one an RBI double to the right field corner. The next two hitters would walk and reach via a hit-by-pitch setting up Adam Gaydos for a bases loaded three-run triple that one-hopped the left/center wall (below). Gaydos then scored on a sacrifice fly to right field from next man up Jake Bergquist. 5-run rally complete.

Down 5-1, the Hilltoppers started their five run rally with a single from two-hole hitter Christian Knapczyk (Louisville commit). Max Cullen (Loras commit) singled to right sending Knapczyk to third and a slider from Wilma then rolled to the backstop allowing Knapczyk to score. Three batters later, Nick Iannantone (Johnson County CC commit) delivered the clutch hit in the frame sending a two-out, two-run double over the left fielders head on a 2-2 count. Next man up Gurka would triple home Iannantone and then score on another pitch to the backstop from Wilma. 5-run rally of their own complete.

JCA’s Zach Hise (below) entered the game in the 6th inning only facing one more than the minimum. He earned the two inning save allowing no hits, one walk and fanning three.

Josh Ragusa earned the victory for the Hilltoppers tossing a third of an inning with one punch out. Gould took the no-decision with a line: 4.1IP, 4H, 3ER, 7K, 3BB.

Tinley Park’s Jose Marban threw one and a third of hitless ball striking out two and walking one. Wilma suffered the loss with a line: 5.2IP, 6H, 6R, 5ER, 8K, 2BB.

With the win, Joliet Catholic advances to the Sectional Championship on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at host site St. Laurence HS against the St. Laurence Vikings.


+ OF Nick Iannantone (Joliet Catholic): 1-for-3, 2B, R, 2RBI
+ OF Mike Gurka (Joliet Catholic): 1-for-3, 3B, R, RBI
+ OF Adam Gaydos (Tinley Park): 1-for-4, 3B, R, 3RBI
+ OF Ryan Grand (Tinley Park): 2-for-3, 2B, R, RBI