Baseball: Marty Napleton’s squeeze bunt lifts St. Rita past Mount Carmel
By Pat Disabato email@example.com May 7, 2013 9:50PM
St. Rita's Marty Napleton lays down a squeeze bunt to score the winning run against Mount Carmel. | Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:31AM
Marty Napleton said he was surprised to see coach Mike Zunica flash the squeeze bunt sign in the bottom of the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game against Mount Carmel.
He just wasn’t as surprised as the Caravan.
Napleton’s bunt with one out scored Andrew Massey with the winning run and gave St. Rita a thrilling 7-6 victory.
Considering Napleton, the team’s cleanup hitter, had been swinging a hot stick, with six hits in his previous 12 at-bats with six RBI, the element of surprise was near its apex.
“It was pretty nerve-racking, especially against our hated rival,” said Napleton, a goalie on the Mustangs hockey team. “I just told myself to relax and get in the right mind-set.”
Napleton bunted the first pitch he saw from reliever Nelson Munoz, who made an outstanding barehand pickup but threw wildly past home plate.
“I didn’t expect a squeeze with who I consider their best hitter up,” Mount Carmel coach Brian Hurry said. “I’m kind of kicking myself for not walking him and putting us in a position for a force at any base. It was a gutsy call, and they executed it.”
The only reason Napleton was in that position was that the Mustangs (25-5, 12-3) blew a 6-3 lead in the top of the seventh.
Josh Stowers’ RBI single and Malik Carpenter’s two-run triple brought the Caravan (23-6, 12-3) into a 6-all tie. An error to start the inning by St. Rita opened up the door slightly to the comeback.
“Our kids showed a lot of heart and desire and never gave up,” Hurry said.
Mount Carmel scored three runs in the top of the first off Mutangs starer Dominic Fosco, who settled down and pitched into the seventh. Jason Gasser’s triple down the right-field line scored Ako Thomas (walk) and Jerry Houston (single) for a 2-0 lead. Gasser later scored on a groundout by Carpenter to make it 3-0.
St. Rita came back with three runs in its half of the first. Massey’s double and Napleton’s sacrifice fly brought the Mustangs to within 3-2. Connor McLain tied the game at 3 with a long home run to left off Richard Fordon.
St. Rita added single runs in the second, third and sixth innings to go up 6-3.
The win kept the Mustangs’ hopes of a piece of the Catholic Blue title alive and denied the Caravan a chance at winning it outright. Both are 12-3, while St. Laurence, with a 4-1 win Tuesday over Brother Rice, is 13-2.
St. Rita and Mount Carmel square off again Saturday. Ditto St. Laurence and Brother Rice.
“We had to win,” McLain said. “We still have a shot.”