After shutout loss, Vikings get back to business
Two days after getting hit with a string of goose eggs, St. Laurence cooked that goose.
The Vikings’ high-powered offense has often seemed unstoppable this spring, but De La Salle found a way to grind it to a halt last Thursday. Behind pitcher Ivan Guzman, the Meteors stunned St. Laurence — and probably a number of prep baseball fans — by notching a 4-0 shutout in a Chicago Catholic League crossover matchup.
The loss came right after the Vikings had crushed both St. Ignatius (12-0) and Fenwick (15-0) in two other league clashes, which simply added to its shocking nature.
“We’ve been playing a month and generating a lot of runs, but we told our guys, ‘It really isn’t going to be this easy all the time,’” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus said. “I think not being in [many] close games hurt us on Thursday.”
Making De La Salle’s triumph particularly impressive was that it was accomplished at the expense of Vikings ace Brad Wood, who threw 33 first-inning pitches and was nicked for three runs. The University of Illinois-Chicago-bound senior settled down after that and wound up with six strikeouts, but the damage had already been done.
“I think they had a lot of momentum after scoring three runs off Brad Wood,” Lotus said of the Meteors. “[And] mentally, it was tough for us when we got down, especially with Brad on the mound. It was the first time that really happened, and it takes a little bit to get going in that situation.”
St. Laurence, in fact, never really did. The Vikings matched De La Salle with seven hits, but they were unable to get anyone as far as third base.
“Having six more innings to get three runs wasn’t anything we couldn’t do,” Lotus said. “But it was just one of those days where I think we got a little frustrated.”
Nate Tholl was the only St. Laurence player to collect more than one hit.
St. Laurence 7
Gordon Tech 1
Lotus admitted that “days like Thursday happen. It’s part of baseball,” but he didn’t want his athletes reading more than was necessary into one quiet afternoon.
“I hope it was never in their minds that they were in a slump or we suddenly couldn’t hit,” Lotus said.
With no practice being called for Good Friday, the veteran coach was uncertain as to what he could expect from his team on Saturday against the Rams.
“A lot of my peace [after a loss] comes from being able to go out and work on things,” he said.
No need to worry, though, as the Vikings (14-2, 3-1) righted themselves at Gordon Tech’s expense. While the Rams whiffed 15 times and managed just two infield singles off Mike Kornacker, St. Laurence gave its hurler a lead to work with right from the get-go as Roger Wilson (two-run double), Wood (double), Tholl and Kornacker (RBI) himself all hit safely in the opening stanza.
“We had more offense already with the first two batters [than in the entire game before],” Lotus said. “I thought it was huge, just for our confidence, to score right away.”
With Kornacker in complete command on the hill, the Vikes didn’t need to add to their total, but they did so anyway by tallying three more times in the fifth inning and once in the sixth. Mike Miller’s two-run triple and Kevin White’s RBI single were the critical blows in St. Laurence’s later scoring, and Tholl and Kornacker also executed a double steal.
St. Laurence 12
St. Ignatius 0
The Vikings played as the visiting team in Burbank last Monday, but they made themselves feel right at home by quickly constructing a 3-0 lead. A five-run explosion in the fourth then put the game well beyond the Wolfpack’s reach.
That was especially true since Alex Hitney turned in another solid pitching effort. In winning for the fourth straight time this spring, Hitney was in peak form as he registered 10 strikeouts and allowed just one hit.
“We’re going to need someone besides Brad and Mike [to pitch] when we get to the Catholic League Blue, and he was excellent [here],” Lotus said of Hitney. “That was by far the best he’s thrown for us. If Alex has had any [past] issues, it’s been with his control, but he only walked two.
“He’s done a great job of putting the ball where he wants to, and he’s got good enough stuff to get people out when he does that. He’s worked very hard to be able to do that.”
Despite the high run production, Lotus thought St. Laurence batters didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy until the seventh inning. Still, offensive heroes were rather plentiful as Wood (double, triple, RBI), Miller (double, two RBI) and TJ Marik (RBI) all hit safely twice. Other RBI men included Anthony Chimera (two-run double), Kornacker (single), Rich Lamb (single) and Wilson (groundout).
St. Laurence 15
The Friars were also overpowered on Wednesday, as the Vikings scored three runs or more in three consecutive at-bats. A seven-run third represented the apex.
Interestingly, that was the inning St. Laurence did not blast a homer. John Riordan (3-for-3) went deep with a three-run shot in the second and Rob Gutierrez cleared the fence for a two-run dinger in the fourth. More extra-base hits were delivered by Miller (RBI triple), Marik (RBI double) and Wood (double), and a total of five players smacked at least a pair of safeties.
Frank Greco pocketed the pitching win after going the first four frames. He struck out four, and Greco and reliever Zach Erdmann teamed up to silence Fenwick on four hits.
After squaring off with Bishop McNamara and St. Joseph in two more Catholic League crossover games earlier this week, the Vikings are set to get Blue Division play underway on Saturday versus Providence Catholic.
St. Laurence 120 500 4 — 12
St. Ignatius 000 000 0 — 0
St. Laurence 2B: Chimera, Miller, Wood. 3B: Wood. RBI: Chimera 2, Miller 2, Kornacker, Lamb, Marik, Wilson, Wood. WP: Hitney (4-0).
Fenwick 000 00 — 0
St. Laurence 057 3x — 15
St. Laurence 2B: Marik, Wood. 3B: Miller. HR: Gutierrez, Riordan. RBI: Riordan 3, Gutierrez 2, Wilson 2, Kornacker, Marik, Miller, Tholl, White, Wood. WP: Greco (3-0).
St. Laurence 000 000 0 — 0
De La Salle 300 001 x — 4
St. Laurence LP: Wood (3-1).
Gordon Tech 001 000 0 — 1
St. Laurence 300 031 x — 7
St. Laurence 2B: Wilson 2, Tholl, Wood. 3B: Miller. RBI: Miller 2, Wilson 2, Kornacker, White. WP: Kornacker (3-1).