Caravan stop Crusaders’ streak
The 10th was perfect, the 11th not so much.
Brother Rice rode a 10-game win streak into its Chicago Catholic League Blue opener on Saturday against Mt. Carmel. Six of the victories were rung up in league crossovers, and many of those were realized by wide margins, thanks to the Crusaders’ increasingly effective offense. That included a 12-2 demolition of St. Ignatius in five innings last Wednesday.
But in the Blue, it’s often a matter of “O’s” being shunned by overpowering pitching, which was exactly what occurred between Rice and the Caravan. Neither team, in fact, generated much in the way of noise, but three Crusaders errors proved costly to the locals.
One, in particular, administered big pain. When a ball hit by Jeremy Houston in the second stanza was mishandled, Mt. Carmel’s A.J. Lewis raced home with the game’s first run.
Dave Dobrinich’s third-inning homer provided the Caravan with some insurance, but it was one of only four hits given up by Rice starter Brian Musielak. Still, that was enough to get the job done for Mt. Carmel, which used Marko Boricich’s two-hit outing as the impetus for a 2-0 triumph.
“It was a regional [or] sectional type of atmosphere Saturday,” Crusaders coach John McCarthy said. “It was a different level of pressure [and] that’s a great experience. For us, it’s great to be in those games.
“Marko was fantastic. He really kept us off-balance. [Our guys] were disappointed, but that’s the way baseball is some days.”
Despite receiving hits only from Mike Massey and Kevin Biondic (double), Rice (17-4, 6-1) wasn’t without some scoring chances due to periodic wildness on Boricich’s part. Five runners were stranded between the first and second frames, the latter being the more frustrating situation as the Crusaders had filled the sacks with only one out.
Rice also wasted Biondic’s double, which led off the fifth, and was unable to capitalize after placing men on second and third in the seventh.
“It doesn’t have to do with [the number of] hits,” McCarthy said, referring to what the Crusaders needed to succeed versus the Caravan. “With us, it’s about situational hitting.”
While Rice couldn’t extend its winning streak at Mt. Carmel’s expense, McCarthy had few regrets.
“I’m very, very proud of these guys,” he said. “The kids gave it all they had and, hopefully, we can use this as a learning tool.
“Our kids really battle and fight to the end. We never really feel like we’re out of a game, and that’s more [attributable] to their spirit — that’s something you can’t teach. The word we use is ‘compete,’ and they get after it every day.”
Brother Rice 10
Gordon Tech 0
The Crusaders definitely got after it when they met the Rams last Monday. Pitching-wise, Ian McGinnis was in command as he fired a four-hitter, fanned eight and walked just two over four innings before giving way to Barry Biondic, who culminated a slaughter-rule win by striking out the side in the fifth.
As for batting, five players registered multiple-hit efforts. Andrew Dyke led the way with a 3-for-3 showing that included a homer and four RBI, but Kevin Biondic (one RBI, one run), Jake Barry (homer, double, two RBI, one run), Kyle Hilliard (homer, double, two RBI, one run) and Kevin Sullivan (double, two runs) all made their presences keenly felt as well. Massey had one hit and tallied twice.
“If we get down, we look to come back,” McCarthy said. “If we’re in front, we look to bury them.”
Rice did so here by exploding for six runs in the second inning, which established an 8-0 edge for it. The Crusaders finished with 15 hits and augmented that production with spotless defense.
Brother Rice 12
St. Ignatius 2
A five-run second put the Crusaders up 6-0 on Wednesday and they went on to bag a second straight five-inning triumph.
Mike Enriquez silenced the Wolfpack on two hits and notched 12 of the 15 outs on ground balls. He also whiffed a batter.
Dyke, Sullivan and Kevin Biondic headlined at the plate as they went a combined 9-for-10 with five doubles, nine RBI and eight runs. Eric Lieser contributed a triple and two RBI as Rice unleashed a 13-hit attack on St. Ignatius.
“It boils down to [the fact] we have great senior leadership,” McCarthy said, when asked what has fueled the Crusaders’ strong season to date. “We can’t do anything without the kids.
“It begins with great kids, and our coaching staff has to put them in positions to where they can succeed. It’s an ongoing process, but it’s been a pleasant year for me.”
Rice was to tangle with Mt. Carmel in a rematch this week and then square off twice with Loyola Academy in another CCL Blue showdown. Also scheduled is a nonconference contest with Andrean (Ind.), which defeated Marist last week.
Brother Rice 262 00 — 10
Gordon Tech 000 00 — 0
Brother Rice 2B: Barry, Hilliard, Sullivan. HR: Barry, Dyke, Hilliard. RBI: Dyke 4, Barry 2, Hilliard 2, K. Biondic. WP: McGinnis (4-1).
St. Ignatius 001 10 — 2
Brother Rice 150 33 — 12
Brother Rice 2B: K. Biondic 2, Dyke 2, Sullivan. 3B: Lieser. RBI: Dyke 6, K. Biondic 3, Lieser 2. WP: Enriquez (4-1).
Brother Rice 000 000 0 — 0
Mt. Carmel 011 000 x — 2
Brother Rice 2B: K. Biondic. LP: Musielak (3-2).
Mt. Carmel HR: Dobrinich. RBI: Dobrinich. WP: Boricich.