Baseball: Nate Tholl’s sacrifice fly helps St. Laurence topple St. Rita
St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus’s words of advice to Nate Tholl were fairly simple:
“He told me to have fun and drive the ball,” said Tholl, the Vikings No. 2 hitter.
Eight pitches later, Tholl lofted a sacrifice fly that scored Ryan Rybakowski with the game-winning run and provided St. Laurence with a 5-4 victory in eight innings over St. Rita in Burbank.
The victory improved the No. 3 Vikings to 18-5 overall and 11-1 in the Catholic League Blue. The No. 4 Mustangs fell to 22-4, 9-2.
Tholl fouled off three pitches from Mustangs pitcher Jake Shmeski with the count 2-and-2 before delivering the bases-loaded, no-outs sac fly to right field.
“I just kept battling and got a pitch to do something with,” said Tholl, a Tinley Park resident.
Tholl may have grabbed the spotlight, but the victory was truly a team effort.
Pitcher Mike Kornacker went the distance, scattering 12 hits, two walks and striking out four during a 108-pitch effort.
He was backed by outstanding plays from third baseman Zach Lewis and shortstop Brad Wood.
Catcher T.J. Marik came up big as well. Besides gunning down a would-be base-stealer, the junior slugged a two-run homer off St. Rita starter Dominic Fosko that tied things at 4 in the fifth.
“He threw me a slider and I turned on it,” said Marik, of Chicago’s Beverly community. “I didn’t think it was gone, but when I heard the crowd screaming, I was like, ‘That really happened?’ ”
St. Laurence scored single runs in the second and fourth innings to take a 2-0 advantage. Kevin White’s single scored Marik (double) for the first run of the game, and Wood (2-for-4) scored White with a two-out single in the fourth for a two-run cushion.
St. Rita responded with four runs in the fifth. Andrew Massey (2-for-4) and Marty Napleton (3-for-4) came through with two-out, two-run singles for a 4-2 lead. The Mustangs left at least one runner on base in seven of the eight innings.
“We had our chances,” St. Rita coach Mike Zunica said.
Marik (2-for-4) helped the Vikings, who racked up 11 hits, regain some momentum with his two-run jack over the left-field fence with two outs in the bottom half of the fifth.
Two days after being no-hit by St. Laurence, St. Rita hits and 14 baserunners. Anthony Ray (2-for-4) and Pete Cozzi (2-for-4) had multihit games for the Mustangs.
“You have to tip your cap to those guys,” Zunica of the Vikings. “They made the plays.”