Baseball: St Rita defeats Mount Carmel to win the Steven Bajenski tournament
Updated: May 19, 2012 10:23PM
St. Rita’s offense broke out Saturday as the No. 13 Mustangs earned a victory over No. 6 Mount Carmel to win the championship of the first Steven Bajenski Memorial tournament.
St. Rita scored all of its runs in the second, third and fourth innings to earn its first win in three games over the Caravan this season. The Mustangs won 10-4 with help from 13 hits at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.
The Mustangs scored 25 runs in three tournament games after beating Oak Lawn 10-6 in their opener Thursday.
“It’s an honor to win this game, knowing the family and what it takes to win it,” St. Rita coach Mike Zunica said.
The Catholic League rivalry between St. Rita and Mount Carmel seemed to be an appropriate way to end the regular season. The finale wrapped up the three-day, eight-team tournament created to honor Bajenski, a former Caravan second baseman, who died in 2009 from complications after heart surgery. But with a potent offense, including a two-run home run by Andrew Massey (2-for-2, three RBI) in top of the second inning, St. Rita walked off with the tournament’s first Stevie’s Cup.
Massey, who hit his first homer of the season, and Mount Carmel’s Joe Kennedy were awarded plaques representing their play by “Doing It Stevie’s Way.”
“It felt great all tournament long,” Massey said. “We played good as a team and had good pitching. This is a good win to give us a lot of energy going into the postseason,” Massey said.
The Mustangs (22-11) scored three runs in the second, four in the third and three in the fourth while Mount Carmel (29-5) scored its first run in the second on an RBI single by Jason Gasser. St. Rita chased starter Tyler Laurisch (9-3) after three innings. The senior right-hander allowed eight hits, seven runs and struck out three batters.
“You have to give them credit,” Caravan coach Brian Hurry said. “They swung the bats well.”
Mount Carmel had its five-game winning streak end. The Caravan haven’t lost since a 7-5 defeat to Providence May 8. Mount Carmel started its win streak with a 5-2 win at St. Rita May 9. The Caravan also beat the Mustangs 5-4 on May 14 at Mount Carmel.
Hurry wasn’t concerned about playing St. Rita a third time, but looked at his own team’s play.
“Our opponent is the game of baseball,” Hurry said. “We don’t care about the other dugout. We didn’t give ourselves the chance to make pitches or make plays.”
Senior right-hander Billy Henry (7-1) picked up the victory by allowing only five hits in five innings. He gave up two runs (one earned) and a walk, and struck out three.
St. Rita played without starting first baseman Rick Faron, who served a one-game suspension after getting involved in a brawl in Friday night’s 5-4 victory over St. Laurence. Faron will return for the third-seeded Mustang’s Class 4A playoff opener May 23 against 14th-seeded Curie at the St. Rita Regional.
The Caravan picked up their second run in the fourth inning when Beau Filkins led off by reaching on an error. He later scored on a one-out sacrifice fly by Dan Pappas. Reserve Justin Gonzalez added two more runs for Mount Carmel in the bottom of the sixth when his double to right center scored Joe Kennedy and Pappas. Gonzalez was thrown out at third base to end the inning trying to stretch his double into a triple.
Second-seeded Mount Carmel opens the playoffs against 15th-seeded Proviso West May 23 at its own regional. There is a chance the two rivals could meet again in the sectional semifinal at Illinois-Chicago.