Prep Baseball Report

No. 2 Mount Carmel Sweeps No. 12 Brother Rice In CCL-Blue Action

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

Tuesday April 28

CHICAGO- No. 2 Mount Carmel (20-1, 8-0 Catholic Blue) stole five bases, played superb defense and took advantage of ten Brother Rice errors to sweep away the Crusaders 8-4 in Mount Greenwood. After being blasted 10-0 behind Caravan ace Nelson Munoz (7-0), on Monday, Brother Rice (17-6, 5-3 Catholic Blue) came out fired up to gain a huge CCL-Blue split.

The Crusaders jumped all over Mount Carmel starting and winning pitcher Mike Lorenzi (5-0) for three runs in the second inning. Ryan King, Jake Ridgeway and Mike Massey all had RBI singles for a quick 3-0 Crusader lead.

Brother Rice starting pitcher Ryan Kutt (4-3) fired four scoreless innings at the Caravan and seemed to be on his way to garnering the much-needed split for Brother Rice. Mount Carmel broke through in the fifth when Alek Thomas tripled and scored the first Caravan run on a ground out off the bat of Michigan-bound Ako Thomas. Thomas proceeded to steal the second Caravan run of the inning when he stole second, went to third on the first of three Crusader overthrows of second and raced home when the Crusader centerfielder bobbled the errant throw. Kutt picked up his second strikeout of the game to escape further damage.

Lorenzi (5-0) was pounding the strike zone and inducing the Crusaders to hit rockets at all of his defenders. Great play after great plays were turned in by the Caravan defense, none larger than the 4-6-3 double-play second baseman Ako Thomas and shortstop Jeremy Houston turned in the bottom of the fifth, with Rice still leading 3-2. With Crusader runners on first and second with one out, Crusader Andrew Dyke hit a laser at Thomas. Thomas, calmly fielded the rocket and fired to Houston who brilliantly tagged second and fired to first baseman Malik Carpenter for the huge twin-killing.

“We were down early but we knew we could come back,” Houston said. “We never give up. Our running game is supposed to “wreak havoc on the base paths” and it did today. I had a good game but it is all about the quality team performance we had today.”

In the Caravan sixth, Jeremy Houston reached on a bloop single. With one out he went to second on a bloop single from Nick Wheeler. Another errant Crusader pickoff throw put runners on second and third. Kutt picked up his eighth strikeout of the game and when Alek Thomas hit a soft pop up to short it appeared that Kutt and the Crusaders had escaped the sixth with the 3-2 lead. The pop up was dropped by the Crusader shortstop as Houston and Wheeler raced home with the 4-3 Caravan lead. AJ Lewis and Ako Thomas followed with RBI singles and this game was over. All four of the runs in the sixth and five of the six runs the tough-luck loser Kutt allowed were unearned. 

“It's always a thrill to play Brother Rice and we came out and played hard to get this big win,” Thomas said. “Speed creates chaos. We put a lot a lot of pressure on the defense with our speed. I try to anything I can to help us win. Turning double-plays, getting clutch hits, whatever it takes to get us a win.”

The Crusaders proceeded to make three more errors in the seventh inning, leading to two unearned runs and ending the defensive debacle at ten. Wheeler picked up an RBI single in the two-run seventh.

“We really wanted to come out and sweep today because we knew after yesterday they wanted to really win this game,” Wheeler said. “I came out today and hit the ball well. I wanted to show them I had what it takes.” 

With the CCL Blue victory, Mount Carmel stays atop the CCL-Blue with No.1 St. Rita (24-0, 8-0) and No. 7 Providence (18-3, 8-0). The Caravan will face St. Laurence (14-5, 5-3) on Wednesday. Providence will travel to St. Rita on Wednesday for a rematch of the 2014 IHSA Class 4A State Championship Game won by Providence 4-1.

“A large part of our game is our speed and our outstanding defense,” Mount Carmel coach Brian Hurry said. “Our entire infield are all solid defenders. We took advantage of their mistakes and Mike (Lorenzi) pounded the strike zone and pitched a good game for us. Another great CCL-Blue game. Everyone in our conference benefits from the great competition all of our members provide us with each week. We all strive for the same goal: a state championship.”

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