Mount Carmel Downs Jacobs, Advances To 4A Title Game

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

Alek ThomasJOLIET, IL – He’s only a freshman, but Mount Carmel’s Alek Thomas has already built a reputation that far exceeds his age. The left-handed hitting outfielder leads the state’s most potent offense in homers, and seems to flourish in the limelight.

On Friday night, on the biggest stage in high school baseball, Thomas did it again, this time hitting a two-run homer and finishing with three RBI in Mount Carmel’s 5-2 victory over Jacobs in the Class 4A state semifinals at Silver Cross Field.

With the win, Mount Carmel (36-4) looks to claim its second state championship in three years. The Caravan will play the winner of Oak Park and Providence, which won the state title last year.

The Caravan scored all five of their runs in the first three innings, and after Thomas’ two-run bomb to right field in the third inning, Mount Carmel was staked to a 5-0 advantage.

“We came into the year with seven returning starters,” said Mount Carmel coach Brian Hurry, who is making his fifth trip to the state tournament. “So for a freshman to come in and start, it speaks to his skill level, but it also speaks to his mental makeup.”

The Caravan won the state championship two years ago with four sophomores in the lineup – Ako Thomas, Josh Stowers, Scott Kapers and Malik Carpenter. Now seniors, all four played a role in the victory.

“It helps us,” said Ako Thomas, a Michigan recruit who went 1-for-3 with a run and played a stellar defensive second base. “We know what we need to do to win.”

As for Alek Thomas (no relation), who’s listed at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, he doesn’t have that same experience to draw from.

“You just have to act like you’ve been there before,” said Alec Thomas, who has eight home runs, including one in the supersectional.

Despite the hot start, Mount Camel’s bats cooled off on a freakishly cold June evening (temps in the low 50s). Jacobs (29-11) scored two runs in the fifth inning, and it was nearly 5-4 before a controversial call got overturned that saw the Golden Eagles score two runs.

The play: With the bases loaded, pinch hitter Daniel Salomon chopped a ball to Ako Thomas at second base. Thomas appeared to tag the runner heading to second for the third out of the inning, but the umpire said he missed the tag. Thomas was shocked by the call, and a second runner came around to score.

But he umpire crew huddled after the play, and the runner was ruled out due to he was out of the base path, effectively ending the inning and keeping Mount Carmel’s advantage at 5-2.

Did Thomas tag him?

“Yes, I pushed him out of the bases,” said Ako Thomas.

Mount Carmel starting left-handed pitcher Mike Lorenzi (9-0) pitched five innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs with one strikeout and two walks. Jacobs finally got to him in the fifth, scoring twice on run-scoring singles by Owen Oreskovich and Daniel Tenayuca.

That prompted Hurry to bring in his ace, senior right-hander Nelson Munoz, for the final two innings. Munoz pitched two scoreless with one hit and two strikeouts, including one to end the game on an 85-mph fastball.

The Caravan wasted little time getting to Jacobs right-hander Ryan Sargent (5-3), who entered the game with a 1.54 ERA. Ako Thomas started it off with a one-out single, and Stowers and Carpenter followed with consecutive hits, scoring Thomas. Alek Thomas followed with a RBI groundout, staking the Caravan to a 2-0 lead before Jacobs’ fans had settled into their seats. The Caravan added another run in the second on senior catcher Scott Kapers’ solo home run to left field.

Carpenter finished the game 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run for the Caravan, who were actually out-hit 7-5.

Jacobs, making its first state semifinal appearance, was led by senior shortstop Matt Kozlak, who went 3-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

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