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Baseball: St. Laurence stop St. Rita’s season-opening winning streak at 26

T.J. Marik  St. Laurence connects against St. RitSt. RitWednesday May 7th 2014 Chicago. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

T.J. Marik , of St. Laurence, connects against St. Rita at St. Rita, Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 in Chicago. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 10, 2014 6:30AM



Leading 5-1 entering the sixth inning Wednesday, it appeared St. Rita was in position to extend its winning streak to 27 games.

St. Laurence, however, wasn’t having any of that.

T.J. Marik’s two-run homer ignited a five-run sixth inning as visiting St. Laurence handed St. Rita its first loss of the season, 8-5, in a Catholic League Blue thriller.

“That’s how it goes,” Mustangs coach Mike Zunica said. “We were up 5-1 and we had no edge.”

St. Laurence’s win not only ended St. Rita’s winning streak at 26 straight, it also prevented the Mustangs from taking complete control of the Catholic Blue. The Vikings (22-3, 10-2) sit just a game in back of St. Rita (26-1, 11-1), with Brother Rice and Mount Carmel lurking.

“If we don’t win this game, we’re pretty much done in the Catholic League Blue,” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus said.

The comeback started when Roger Wilson walked and Marik smacked a homer over the left-field fence to cut St. Laurence’s deficit to 5-3.

“I was sitting fastball, saw fastball and did what I needed to do,” said Marik, a three-year starting catcher. “We still believed we had a shot to win this game.”

Jake Shepski came on in relief of starter Tyler Halas and was greeted by Mike Miller’s double and bunt single by Kevin White. The first of two errant pickoff throws by Shepksi allowed the Vikings to close to within 5-4.

White scored the tying run on a fielder’s choice by Sean Burnette. Another errant pickoff by Shepski allowed Burnette to scamper to third, and he eventually scored on a wild pitch for a 6-5 advantage.

St. Laurence tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Marik and solo homer by Miller.

St. Rita rallied in the seventh. A single by Halas and walk to Nick Goldsmith brought the tying run to the plate. Lotus called on senior Mike Kornacker (2-for-4) to save the game, which he did by retiring the next two hitters.

“They helped us out with a couple of pickoff throws,” Lotus said. “But I’m proud of the way the guys battled back.”

Shepski and Goldsmith drove home runs in the first inning on an RBI triple and single, respectively. Halas helped his own cause with a two-run homer in the third that made it 4-1. Shepski’s fielder’s choice scored another run in the fifth for a 5-1 St. Rita advantage.

Frank Greco pitched 31/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Vikings.

“I was just focusing on one pitch, one batter at a time,” Greco said. “It feels great to win this game.”



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