Wood's no-hitter leads No. 3 St. Laurence past No. 2 St. Rita

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

CHICAGO – A week ago, St. Laurence junior right-hander Brad Wood fired a two-hit shutout at the defending Chicago Catholic League champions from Providence Catholic. On Monday, Wood somehow managed to outdo himself.

Wood was nothing short of dominant, as he tossed a no-hitter against No. 2-ranked St. Rita in leading No. 3 St. Laurence to a convincing 7-0 victory in the first of two-game Chicago Catholic Blue clash at St. Rita (22-3, 9-1).

With St. Rita’s junior shortstop Jake Shepski at first, with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Wood (4-1) induced St. Rita’s Marty Napleton to hit a grounder to short. Wood’s fellow classmate, junior Mike Kornacker, gobbled up the roller and flipped to junior Nate Tholl, who tagged second for the force and threw a strike to Viking first baseman Roger Wilson to complete the 6-4-3 double-play and put the finishing touch on Wood’s no-hitter.

“I went with pretty much the same game plan as I had against Providence,” said Wood, who finished with five strikeouts and five walks. “I had a couple of rough innings with my control but settled in and pitched well. The no-hitter was especially rewarding being against our rival here at St. Rita. It’s truly an outstanding feeling.” 

In a classic showdown between two of the state’s top teams, St. Laurence (17-5; 10-1) picked up an unearned run in the first against St. Rita’s ace lefty Mike Costanzo (7-1), an Austin Peay recruit who suffered his first loss. The Vikes plated another run in the top of the second on RBI single from junior Kevin White.

In the top of the fourth, the Viking’s Austin Peay-recruit junior catcher TJ Marik stepped up to the plate with junior Mike Miler on first. Marik hammered a fastball from his future Austin Peay teammate over the left field fence and the Vikings doubled their lead to 4-0. The Vikes would pick up another unearned run to increase the lead to 5-0.

“Mike Costanzo and I are the very best of friends,” said Marik. “In two years we will be going to Austin Peay together. This was a big game for us and I was really dialed-in on Mike. I really hit the ball hard today. Brad was outstanding on the mound and he hit his spots all day. Our defense played errorless ball and the no-hitter was so awesome.”

St. Laurence picked up a pair of runs in the sixth to conclude the scoring. Wood singled home a run and Tholl drove the last Viking run home on a sac-fly.

Wood walked Shepski on four-pitches to lead off the Mustang seventh. Andrew Massey flew out to right fielder Ryan Rybakowski for the first out. Napleton rolled into the pitcher’s best friend, the 6-4-3 twin-killing to put Brad Wood into the history books at St. Laurence.

“Brad was just outstanding today on the mound for us,” said St. Laurence head coach Pete Lotus. “Our defense was equally outstanding playing errorless ball. I thought TJ’s bomb really took the juice out of St. Rita. TJ crushed the ball all day for us.”

With the win, St. Laurence (17-5; 10-1) and Mount Carmel (20-4; 10-1), who defeated Loyola 4-0 on Monday, are tied atop the CCL-Blue standings. St. Rita is ½ game back at 9-1. St. Rita will invade St. Laurence on Wednesday at Viking Field at 4:30. Yours truly will be in Burbank for all of the action.

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