Shutdowns of Loyola top Crusaders’ week
The record shows that Brother Rice broke even last week.
Convincing Loyola Academy players the Crusaders were only average might be a difficult task, however.
For sure, the Ramblers saw Rice at its best, particularly last Wednesday, when it rode Mike Enriquez’s superb pitching to a slaughter-rule win in Wilmette. The Crusaders’ offense wasn’t too shabby, either, as it pounded out 10 hits, six of which — as well as seven combined RBI — were supplied by Andrew Dyke and Kevin Biondic. Behind that assault, Rice was able to pin a 10-0 defeat on Loyola.
But an even bigger story was Enriquez’s mastery on the hill. The senior had a no-hitter through 4 2/3 innings before getting touched for a single, the Ramblers’ lone hit on the afternoon. Enriquez did walk three, but those mattered little as he also struck out six men and was backed by a flawless Crusaders defense.
Rice coach John McCarthy appreciated Enriquez’s effort, particularly since it came on the heels of the Crusaders’ second Chicago Catholic League Blue loss to Mt. Carmel in a three-day span.
“That was exactly what we needed to keep us in the Catholic League Blue hunt,” McCarthy said. “To do that, you’ve got to win games, and he put a stop to the losing streak. That was what we wanted from a senior pitcher.”
While Enriquez has pretty much toiled in the shadow of teammates Biondic, Brian Musielak and Ian McGinnis, McCarthy considers him every bit as important to Rice’s mound staff as the others.
“He’s been pitching so consistent all year long,” McCarthy said. “He worked very hard in the offseason and it’s good to see him have success. I’m happy for him personally.
“Mike got off to a good start [against Loyola]. He had his changeup working and it was a dominating performance. And it wasn’t an easy day to pitch because the wind was blowing out.”
The Crusaders (19-6, 8-2) certainly had no difficulty dealing with the elements as they scored at least twice in four of their five plate appearances. Dyke produced four of Rice’s first five runs with an RBI single in the first and three-run homer in the second. He added another RBI hit in the fifth.
“Andrew’s got close to 30 RBIs,” McCarthy said. “He’s really a tough player with an advanced approach. He’s a good student of the game and I’m not surprised by his success.”
Biondic included a double among his three hits and totaled two RBI, Kevin Sullivan stroked a two-run double in the fourth and Musielak lofted a sacrifice fly that completed the Crusaders’ scoring. Sullivan also drew three walks and tallied three times.
“Our hitting’s saved us in a few games [this year],” McCarthy said. “But when your staff goes out there and puts up zeros, it allows your offense time to get comfortable.
“I’ve been pleased with our [offensive] effort day in and day out, but it’s just a matter of staying consistent in your approach. Situational hitting is so important when you’re playing elite teams.”
The term “situational hitting” usually conjures up images of things like squeeze bunts and hit-and-run plays in people’s minds, but Jake Barry put a more dramatic spin on it in Saturday’s rematch with the Ramblers.
Barry’s walk-off grand slam in the seventh lifted Rice to a 7-3 triumph and series sweep of Loyola. Michael Massey (single), Dyke (walk) and Erich Lieser (intentional walk) got on base ahead of him.
Prior to that, Ryan Kutt (sacrifice fly), Danny Beese (single) and Sullivan (sacrifice fly) each knocked in a run for the Crusaders, which offset the three the Ramblers accumulated off Musielak. Loyola tallied once in the fourth and twice in the sixth, the latter rally temporarily bringing it into the 3-all deadlock.
“Good teams can beat you in multiple ways,” McCarthy said. “Winning on Wednesday got our confidence back.”
Musielak logged the victory by effectively scattering eight hits and striking out six. He did not issue any free passes.
Mt. Carmel 8
Brother Rice 6
The Caravan committed four errors last Monday, which led to every one of the Crusaders’ runs being unearned. Mt. Carmel survived, however, behind a 13-hit attack and was able to deal a second straight loss to Rice in their head-to-head confrontations.
Massey drove in three runs for the Crusaders, while Dyke and Kyle Hilliard both provided Rice with two hits and an RBI. Kutt took his first loss on the mound after bagging four wins.
Andrean (Ind.) 4
Brother Rice 0
In between their games with Loyola, the Crusaders took on the 59ers. Thursday’s matchup found Rice in quiet mode as it was held to three hits by Andrean hurler Jimmy Skiff.
The last of those was Beese’s fifth-inning single, which was followed by a hit batsman and walk. Massey launched a deep fly ball to center, but it stayed within reach of the 59ers’ outfielder and the Crusaders came away empty-handed.
Rice returned to CCL Blue play this week with two games against Providence Catholic and one versus St. Rita. McCarthy said the Crusaders must simply focus on each day’s assignment when it arrives.
“Every game’s going to be tough, but that’s what you ask for in the Catholic League,” McCarthy said. “We can’t worry about what other teams are doing.”
Mt. Carmel 201 032 0 — 8
Brother Rice 001 302 0 — 6
Brother Rice RBI: Massey 3, Dyke, Hilliard. LP: Kutt (4-1).
Brother Rice 232 03 — 10
Loyola Academy 000 00 — 0
Brother Rice 2B: K. Biondic, Sullivan. HR: Dyke. RBI: Dyke 5, K. Biondic 2, Sullivan 2, Musielak. WP: Enriquez (5-1).
Andrean 010 020 1 — 4
Brother Rice 000 000 0 — 0
Brother Rice LP: Kutt (4-2).
Loyola Academy 001 002 0 — 3
Brother Rice 010 020 4 — 7
Brother Rice HR: Barry. RBI: Barry 4, Beese, Kutt, Sullivan. WP: Musielak (4-2).