Baseball: St. Laurence rolls past Lincoln-Way North 14-0
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org May 16, 2013 7:52PM
St. Laurence's Brad Wood (13) celebrate with teammates after bringing in the first run against Lincoln-Way North. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 18, 2013 8:22AM
There likely will be a new No. 1 when the baseball poll comes out next week. St. Laurence made certain of that.
The No. 2 Vikings battered former teammate Kevin Smith and No. 1 Lincoln-Way North 14-0 in six innings Thursday in the Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament at Benedictine University in Lisle.
Offense, defense, pitching, St. Laurence (23-7) performed each task at state championship level. The Vikings belted out 12 hits, played flawless defense and got a dominant performance on the mound from Mike Kornacker.
“Yes, I think this was our best performance of the year,” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus. “We played great defense behind Mike, and we hit one through nine in the lineup. Everyone contributed.”
Kornacker, who improved to 6-1 with the complete-game win, needed just 74 pitches to tame a dangerous Phoenix lineup. The junior right-hander allowed four hits and struck out six, including Smith twice, who was serenaded with chants of “traitor” by a large Vikings contingent. Kornacker benefited from marvelous plays by second baseman Nate Tholl and left fielder Mike Miller in the third and fourth innings, respectively.
“I felt really good out there,” said Kornacker, a Purdue recruit. “We came out ready to play. This was a big game for us. Yeah, it was even bigger because of Kevin. I thought we handled it really well and played one of our most complete games of the year.”
Beyond playing the No. 1 Phoenix (29-2), the presence of Smith, who spent his first three seasons at St. Laurence before transferring to North, elevated the stakes. Smith entered the game 7-0, but the Vikings weren’t daunted and wasted little time handing the Creighton recruit his first loss of the season.
The first two batters of the game, Brad Wood (4-for-5, 2 RBI) and Nate Tholl, greeted Smith with singles. Kornacker then followed with a ball that center fielder Corey Krupske ran down but dropped, allowing Wood to score for a 1-0 lead. Zach Lewis and Miller each hit sacrifice flies for a 3-0 lead.
“Getting that early lead was huge,” Kornacker said. “We knew if we could get on them early, we could put more pressure on them.”
The Vikings tacked on two more runs in the third, compliments of a two-out single by T.J. Marik that scored Tholl (walk) and Lewis (single) for a 5-0 advantage.
St. Laurence added a solo run in the fourth when Wood singled up the middle, scoring Kevin White, who had doubled.
“They were playing at a different speed than we were and I don’t know why,” North coach Joe Skarbek said. “We didn’t make plays we usually make.”
The Vikings sent Smith to the showers in the sixth, when the scored eight runs. Skarbek summoned left-hander Brett King from the bullpen after Smith hit Ryan Rybakowski with a pitch to start the inning. The Vikings sent 12 batters to the plate, with Lewis, Tholl, Wood, Rybakowski, Pat Haugh and Roger Wilson recording RBI to extend the lead to 14-0.
To his credit, Smith handled the loss like a man.
“Days like this are going to happen. It’s baseball,” Smith said. “Winning this game isn’t our main goal; winning a state championship is. They’re a great ballclub. (It) wasn’t our day. We’ll be back.”