No. 8 St. Laurence downs No. 6 Mount Carmel

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

BURBANK - In a less-than-artistic performance between the preseason top two-ranked teams in Illinois, No. 8 St.Laurence defeated No. 6 Mount Carmel, 7-3, at Viking Field. After making five errors in its victory over Brother Rice on Monday, Mount Carmel (17-3; 8-1) committed four more in handing its rival St. Laurence (19-2; 8-1) the gift-wrapped Chicago Catholic League Blue Division victory.

The play of the game occurred in the Viking fourth inning. With the score knotted at 2-2 with two outs and Viking runners on second and third, NIU-bound Brad Wood (2-for-3, run, RBI) hit a slow-roller to junior second baseman Ako Thomas. Thomas scooped up the slow-roller and threw the ball to first baseman junior Malik Carpenter. In what appeared to be the third out of the inning, a freakish event occurred. The ball simply fell out of Carpenter’s glove for a critical error, as the two Viking runners crossed the plate for a 4-2 Viking lead.

The Caravan opened up the scoring in the first inning with a pair of unearned runs against Viking starting and winning pitcher senior Alex Hitney (5-0). Caravan sophomore shortstop Jeremy Houston came through with a clutch two-out, two-run single to right to put the Caravan up 2-0.

St. Laurence answered with single runs in the first and second. With two outs in the second, Wood dropped a beautiful bunt single to score senior Kevin White with the tying run.

Mount Carmel picked up its third unearned run in the game to close to 4-3 in the top of the fifth. Houston drove home his third run of the game on a fielder’s choice.

In the bottom of the fifth, Purdue-bound Mike Kornacker, who had walked and been sacrificed to second, stole third base and danced merrily home when the throw sailed into left field for a 5-3 Viking lead. Senior centerfielder Mike Miller followed with a two-run bomb to bust open the contest. It was Miller’s second round-tripper of 2014.  

“We’ve been waiting for this game all year,” said Miller. “We took advantage of their mistakes and made the plays when we had to. I had two strikes on me and was looking fastball and he got it up a little too much. I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it.”

St. Laurence junior John Riordan fired two scoreless innings of relief of Hitney. Riordan made things interesting in the Caravan seventh, loading the bases with one out before retiring the final two batters to preserve the win. Hitney pitched five innings, allowing no earned runs and four hits. Hitney struck out four and walked four.

“The four walks really raised my pitch-count, which hurt me,” said Hitney. “Overall, I battled out on the mound and I’m really happy to get this big victory.”

The two clubs will meet again on Saturday morning at Haggerty Field in Chicago at 11. St. Laurence’s Kornacker (5-1) will be opposed by Mount Carmel’s Penn State-bound Marco Boricich (5-0).

“That was the worst game we played defensively all season,” said St. Laurence head coach Pete Lotus. “I’m proud of the fact that we battled through all of that and came away with the win. I’m really happy for Alex’s success. He has really pitched well for us this season.”

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