No. 8 Simeon strikes in seventh, sinks No. 19 Marist

By Drake Skleba

CHICAGOOn a picture-perfect spring afternoon on the Southside of Chicago, a classic baseball game took place between two of the top teams in Illinois. No. 8 Simeon (6-1) and No. 19 Marist (4-2) battled through six scoreless innings before the No. 8 Wolverines broke through for three runs in the top of the seventh and went on to defeat the Redhawks of Marist 3-0.

The game was played at the beautiful new baseball facility at Marist before a large energetic crowd. Also in attendance were about a half a dozen MLB scouts armed with their radar guns, a radio station and yours truly and all of the people at One can watch a relay of our live broadcast of this classic game by clicking the link:

Both teams threatened in the first inning but Marist starting pitcher senior John McKevitt (1-1) and Simeon junior starter Elbert Dunnigan pitched out of trouble. Both pitchers began to produce goose-eggs on the scoreboard.

University of Iowa-bound C/RHP Blake Hickman relieved Dunnigan in the bottom of the fourth. Dunnigan fired three scoreless innings at the Redhawks, allowing just two hits and struck out two. Hickman, when he was behind the plate for Dunnigan, threw out a pair of Marist base thieves.

McKevitt and Hickman (1-0) continued the classic pitcher’s duel by matching goose-eggs through six wonderful innings.

Marist had a serious threat against Hickman, when the Redhawks had runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. With McKevitt at the plate, Marist junior 2B Cody Bohanek broke for third. Dunnigan, who went behind the plate when he was relieved by Hickman, fired a laser to Wolverine 3B Robert Fletcher, who put the tag on the doomed Bohanek for the third out of the inning.

Numerous defensive gems were made by both clubs. In the Simeon first, Marist 3B Conor Funk made a spectacular stop and throw across the diamond to keep the Wolverines off the board.

Now on to the fateful Simeon half of the seventh. McKevitt came out for his seventh inning of work. Sophomore Darius Day coaxed the first walk of the game by McKevitt to lead off the seventh. Day moved up to second on a sac-bunt from junior 3B Robert Fletcher and scored on a booming double from Dunnigan to plate the first run of the game.

“I had to get that guy at third base trying to steal in the fifth,” said Dunnigan. “I threw the ball well to third. I did well at the plate and was happy to drive in the first run of the game.”

After the second out of the inning, junior 2B Ronell Coleman, a De La Salle-transfer, ripped a solid base hit, scoring Dunnigan. Marist went to its bullpen and brought in senior LHP Mike Golden, who was greeted by junior SS Marshawn Taylor, who ripped another solid single that scored Coleman with the third Wolverine run of the inning. Taylor was gunned down at second for the third out of the inning. 

“We played well today as we have to do the rest of the season,” said Coleman. “Practice hard and play hard, that’s our motto.”

Simeon was led defensively by Coleman. Coleman made a spectacular stop on a ball hit by Marist C Josh Photenhauer to get a force at second with one on and one out in the Marist seventh. Hickman ended the game with a flourish as he struck out the Marist pinch-hittter, his sixth strikeout of the game. Hickman allowed one hit in his four-inning relief performance and picked up the win.

“We played really well as a team today,” said Hickman. “I had a good day behind the plate and on the mound. We still are coming out a little sluggish. Our bats will wake eventually.”

Taylor made three fine plays at SS and showed off his cannon of an arm. Taylor had a pair of hits, including the big insurance run in the seventh and also stole a base.

“I was a little anxious on the first pitch of my last at bat but I got my pitch and drove home a big run for us.”

Simeon bounced back from its loss at No. 4 St. Laurence on Saturday.

“We really played great today,” said Simeon coach Leroy Franklin. “We pitched great, played great defense and really hit well in the seventh. Marist is a fine team and I’m really proud of my kids for their outstanding performance.”

Marist had hits from eadoffman CF Marty Mehalek, Bohanek and senior RF Jim Carroll.

“We battled today against one of the best teams in the state,” said Marist head coach Tom Fabrizio. “I’m so proud of the way John McKevitt battled on the mound for us. We are off to a great start in 2012. Our only two defeats are to No. 6 Providence and No. 8 Simeon.”