Prep Baseball Report

No. 7 Mount Carmel sweeps away No. 14 Brother Rice

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

CHICAGO - In a back-and-forth affair, defending Class 4A state champion Mount Carmel rallied past No. 14 Brother Rice, 8-6, to sweep their Chicago Catholic League Blue Division series on Monday. Mount Carmel (17-2; 8-0) junior first baseman Malik Carpenter had two hits and three big RBI to lead the No. 7 Caravan.

The Caravan jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Junior Ako Thomas, a Michigan recruit, led off with the first of his three hits in the game. Western Illinois University-bound Dave Dobrinich got plunked. Both runners moved up on a sac-bunt from Louisville-recruit junior Josh Stowers.  Carpenter then ripped a double, scoring Thomas with the first run of the game. On the play, Dobrinich was thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning. Mount Carmel added a second run when sophomore A.J. Lewis ripped a clutch two-out RBI double.

Lewis did it again in the third inning with two out, ripping a single to score Thomas, who had singled.

“I really appreciate this big victory today,” said Lewis. “It showed how all our hard work in the off-season paid off today. We really pulled together and beat a very good team today. Coach Hurry said strikeouts are not an option. With two strikes, I went up there looking to take the ball the other way, which I was able to accomplish.”

Brother Rice (17-5; 5-2) would pick up an unearned run in the third and take the lead in the fourth inning, with three more unearned runs. Junior Mike Massey’s clutch two-out, two-run single put the Crusaders up 4-3 after four innings.

The Caravan answered with three runs, two of which were unearned, in the fifth to reclaim the lead. Carpenter tied the game at 4-4 on a RBI single and the Caravan regained the lead, scoring a run on a Crusader miscue and a double play.

“We knew coming into this game that we had to bring our A-game to get out of here with a win,” said Carpenter. “My approach was to take the ball the other way, which I was able to do in the first inning. On the game-tying hit in the fifth, I hit the ball well up the middle. With St. Laurence on Wednesday, we have to have a great practice tomorrow and once again bring our A-game on Wednesday.”

The Caravan picked up a pair of huge insurance runs in the sixth, on an RBI single by Stowers and a third painful RBI for Carpenter, when he was drilled in the wrist with the bases loaded.

Brother Rice picked up two more unearned runs in the sixth against Caravan starting and winning pitcher senior Nelson Munoz (4-1). Munoz allowed seven hits with five strikeouts.
“I did a good job of not letting the errors in the field affect me on the mound,” said Munoz. “I just concentrated on throwing strikes and I feel I pitched a good game for my teammates.”

Mount Carmel head coach Brian Hurry went to his senior catcher/closer Scott Kapers to finish the game in the seventh. After getting the first two Crusader batters out, Kapers loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman. Up to the plate stepped the dangerous Middle Tennessee State-bound Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan had been on base all four times with a double and three walks. On a 3-2 count, Kapers struck out Sullivan looking for the final out of this CCL-Blue thriller.

“We overcame adversity today and found a way to win,” said Hurry. “We will be better next time. Nelson did everything we could ask of him today. We just have to play better defensively.”

The Caravan will travel to Viking Field in Burbank on Wednesday to face No. 8 St. Laurence (17-2; 6-1). Brother Rice will take the long bus-ride to Wilmette to face Loyola (8-9; 5-3) on Wednesday.

“I am really proud of the way we battled the entire game,” said Brother Rice head coach John McCarthy. “They gave us some chances but we just fell a little short.”

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