No. 2 St. Laurence caps whilrlwind day with win over Brother Rice

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

LISLE – After disposing of No. 1 Lincoln-Way North by two touchdowns in six innings, a 14-0 victory hangover was certainly a possibility for the second-ranked Vikings. The Vikings, however, continued business as usual as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings and hung to defeat Brother Rice 6-4 to advance to the Final 4 of the Second Annual Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament.

In the second game of the day for St. Laurence (24-7) at Benedictine University, the

Vikings struck early, scoring two runs in the top of the first. Zach Lewis ripped the first of his three hits, an RBI double plating Viking starting and winning pitcher Brad Wood (6-1). Junior Mike Miller drove home Mike Kornacker, who had the first of his three hits a single, on a ground out the quick 2-0 lead.

“I hit the ball well the first game and didn’t get anything for it so I went up the middle in game two and had a couple of quality hits,” said Kornacker. “This is the third win over Rice in a week and it’s always nice to defeat them, anytime and anywhere.” 

Lewis made it 3-0 with an RBI single in the third inning. 

In the bottom of the third, Miller made the defensive play of the game in left field. With two out and a Crusader courtesy runner at second, Crusader Luke Leibforth singled to Miller in left. Miller came up throwing and fired a strike to Viking catcher Kyle Estand who put the tag on the Crusader base runner for the third out of the inning.

“That was the play of the game for us,” said Wood. “I almost cut-off the throw off but pulled back at the last instant seeing that Mike had the runner at the plate.”

Brother Rice (19-14) scored twice against Wood in the fourth. Senior Wendall Ferguson tripled home the first Crusader run and then scored the second run of the inning on an RBI single from Crusader left fielder Andy Dyke.

Viking junior Kevin White made it 4-2 Vikes with a sac-fly in the top of the sixth. The Crusaders closed to 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth on a sac-fly from Dyke.

St. Laurence picked up two huge insurance runs in the top of the seventh on a Crusader miscue and a huge RBI single from Miller.

‘This was a tough win for us after beating Lincoln-Way North in the first-game,” said Miller. “We had a little bit of a let-down and had to really grind this one out. I’m happy that I did the job tonight at the plate and in the field.”

The never-say-die Crusaders went to work on Viking junior reliever Alex Hitney, who replaced Wood to start the bottom of the seventh. Ariel walked and Erich Lieser doubled bringing in Viking Wabash Valley-College right-hander Zach Lewis. Lewis stuck out Brother Rice leadoffman Kevin Sullivan. Luke Leibforth hit a sac-fly to bring the Crusaders to within 6-4 and Lewis ended the game with a flourish striking out the final Crusader hitter.

“We played well in the first game and we really grinded out the second game win.” said Lewis.

I have been struggling at the plate recently and it felt good to get back in the groove.”

With the win the Vikings move on to the Bajenski semifinals, tomorrow at 4:30 at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood. The Vikings opponent will be their old friend’s from 64th and Dante in Chicago; No. 4 Mount Carmel (26-7). The Caravan hung on to defeat No. 23 Peoria Notre Dame 5-4 at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood. The two clubs split their two-game Chicago Catholic League Blue series, with the Vikings winning the CCL-Blue (14-2) and Mount Carmel (13-3) finishing second one-game back.

In the second semifinal at 7, No.5 St. Rita (26-6) will meet Joliet Catholic Academy (16-13). St. Rita slipped past No. 21 Oak Park 7-6 in Carol Stream on Thursday night.

“I think it was a tremendous job by the kids to keep up the intensity,” said Lotus. “It was the first doubleheader we have played all year and especially after the emotional first-game win, I thought we could have a problem keeping up the intensity. I can’t say enough about our kids. Brad battled as he always does for us. Mike Miller played a great game for us in the field with his great throw in the third and with his bat.”