No. 6 Mount Carmel edges No. 5 St. Laurence

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

CHICAGO – In another Chicago Catholic League Blue Division classic, No. 6 Mount Carmel nipped No. 5 St. Laurence 2-1 at Haggerty Field on Wednesday. With two outs and the tying run at third, in the top of the seventh, reigning Porsche Player of the Week, St. Laurence junior Mike Kornacker, hit a dribbler down the third-base line.

On the play, St. Laurence junior Brad Wood streaked from third for the plate with the tying run. Mount Carmel senior third baseman Beau Filkins bare-handed the roller and, in one motion, threw a strike to Caravan first baseman Malik Carpenter. It appeared that Kornacker had beaten the throw and this game was tied 2-2.

On a delayed call, the umpire called Kornacker out, much to the dismay of the St. Laurence bench and fans. On the other side, sheer elation was experienced by the Caravan infield as they mobbed Filkins.

“That was clearly one of the greatest defensive plays we have ever made in all of my years at Mount Carmel,” said Mount Carmel head coach Brian Hurry. “I truly believe the umpire made the correct call.”

With first place on the line, a classic pitchers’ duel ensued between a pair of junior hurlers. For Mount Carmel (19-3; 9-0), junior lefty Richard Fordon (4-0) matched pitches with Kornacker, a Purdue recruit who notched his second perfect game of the season last week.

Both pitchers started slowly in this masterpiece. After one out in the first inning, St. Laurence (15-4; 8-1) loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman. Viking junior left-fielder Mike Miller ripped a shot off the glove off Mount Carmel’s Oregon University-bound shortstop Jerry Houston into left-field, scoring Viking junior second baseman Nate Tholl, who had walked. Mount Carmel junior left-fielder Dave Dobrinich fired a strike to Caravan catcher BJ Faulkner to gun down the runner at the plate.

“Dave Dobrinich made a game-saving play for us with his great throw in the first inning,” said Hurry. “Richard stuggled early but settled down and pitched well for us.”

Mount Carmel tied the game in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from Caravan senior CF Jason Gasser. The Caravan grabbed the lead on a Viking miscue, scoring what would prove to be the game-winner on the miscue.

“It’s always a great game, whomever we play in the tough Catholic League Blue,” said Gasser. “I went up to the plate hoping to put the ball in play. I got a curveball and just found a hole into right-field.”

Both pitchers proceeded to put goose-eggs on the Haggerty Field scoreboard the rest of the game. Kornacker (4-1) finished with a complete-game six hitter, allowing the two first-inning runs, one earned, for the Vikings.

The fateful top of the seventh started out with Fordon retiring the first Viking hitter before walking Wood. Wood promptly stole second. Tholl hit a chopper to Houston, who was very happy Caravan first baseman Malik Carpenter stands at a 6-foot-3.Carpenter snared Houston’s high throw for the second out as Wood moved into third. Beau Filkins made the play of the game and another outstanding chapter in the Mount Carmel-St. Laurence rivalry was in the books.

Fordon improved to 3-0 with his four-hitter. The talented junior lefty retired 11 of the 12 batters he faced. Fordon struck out four, walked four and hit two batters in the game.

“I was nervous coming out in only my third start of my career,” said Fordon. “I struggled early but pitched well when I was in trouble. The game was at the plate when I struck out the two batters with the bases loaded in the third. I really settled in after that and pitched well.”

The two clubs will meet at Viking Field in Burbank at 11 on Saturday morning.

“We should never have put ourselves in a position where the game is determined by an umpire’s decision. That’s just one play,” said St Laurence head coach Pete Lotus. “We had numerous opportunities to score runs and that’s frustrating because we have done a really fine job this season with men in scoring position. Mike Kornacker settled down and pitched a fine game for us.”

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