Prep Baseball Report

Defending champ Mount Carmel holds off No. 3 St. Laurence

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

BURBANK - Like the Viking hordes that invaded Europe in the 10th Century, the No. 3-ranked Vikings of St. Laurence sent wave after wave of attacks upon defending Class 4A state champion Mount Carmel. In a Class 4A Reavis Sectional classic, junior right-handers Nelson Munoz and Scott Kapers and the Caravan survived and advanced past St. Laurence 3-2 at Ron Czarnecki Field at Reavis.

With the win, the defending champs will take on No.2 St. Rita (34-4) for the Reavis Sectional championship on Saturday at 11.

No. 11 Mount Carmel (31-7) jumped all over St. Laurence starting pitcher NIU-bound Brad Wood (7-2).After one out in the first inning, back-to-back doubles by sophomores AJ Lewis and Jeremy Houston plated the first Caravan run. With two outs, Kapers, who was catching at the time, came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to give the Caravan a 2-0 lead. The Caravan added another run in the second and did not have a batter reach base the rest of the game, as Wood knocked down the final 16 Caravan batters he would face.

On the mound, the crafty-Munoz (7-1) was dealing with a dazzling display of curveballs and changeups to keep the St. Laurence batters at bay. In the bottom of the fifth, St. Laurence’s Sean Burnette singled and Anthony Chimera walked. John Riordan moved both Viking runners up a base on a sac-bunt. Wood scorched a smash at Caravan third baseman Lewis, who made a sensational stop on the ball and fired a strike to Kapers, who put the tag on Burnette for the second out of the inning. Clutch two-out RBI singles from Mike Miller and Mike Kornacker would follow, which brought the Vikings within one at 3-2.

In the sixth, another Viking assault was turned aside by the Caravan. Senior Kevin White reached on an error and Burnette walked. Riordan moved both runners up with another sac-bunt and was called out on a bang-bang play at first for the first out of the inning. Viking pinch-hitter Rob Gutierrez hit a roller back to Munoz, who fired a low throw to Kapers, who snagged the throw and put the tag on White for the second out of the inning. Munoz finished off Wood on a foul out to who else, but Kapers.

“I knew coming in it was going to be a very tough game against a very good team,” said Munoz. “I kept the ball low down and let my defense do the work. My curveball was really working well for me today. Rita on Saturday will be another tough game and we have to come on strong. We cannot let down.”

Kapers, the Caravan closer, would give up a two-out single to Roger Wilson in the seventh and then end the game with a flourish by striking out the last Viking batter to nail down the save for Munoz.

“I feel very confident out on the mound in the closer role,” said Kapers. “I have closed 10 game this season and am very confident in my abilities.”

Houston would finish with a 2-for-3 day with the double and an RBI. Mike Kornacker would close out his illustrious career with a 2-for-4 day and an RBI for St. Laurence.

“What a gutsy performance from Nelson Munoz,” said Mount Carmel coach Brian Hurry. “I’m proud of him and the ball club for grinding out a win against a tremendous St. Laurence ball club. We picked up the three runs early and did what we did to win the state championship last year - won with pitching and defense.”

St. Laurence closes out the season at 32-7.

“I feel so bad for this group of seniors who have been part of so many Viking victories,” said St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus. “I will miss them dearly."

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