Despite trailing by seven runs early in its summer state baseball tourney semifinal, St. Laurence was poised Thursday to mount a comeback in the fifth and sixth innings.
Though the Vikings knocked the ball around plenty, loading the bases in both frames, they couldn’t knock enough runners around to score, ultimately falling 7-4 to Joliet Catholic in the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Phil Lawler Classic at Benedictine University in Lisle.
“Those fifth and sixth innings, we were one hit away from making it closer,” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus said. “We talked to the guys about chipping away and getting it to where we have runners on. We wanted to put pressure on them.”
Brad Wood (2-for-4, RBI), Nate Tholl (3-for-4, run), T.J. Marik (1-for-3, RBI) and Kevin White (1-for-3, RBI, run) contributed for St. Laurence (19-3).
Joliet Catholic (19-3) advanced to the 7 p.m. title game against Lyons, a 5-4 winner over Jacobs.
The Hilltoppers jumped on St. Laurence early, scoring one in the first, two in the third and four in the fourth.
“Our mind-set was we had to keep coming back,” Tholl said. “We’ve done it a lot these last couple of weeks. We never thought we weren’t coming back. We thought that right up until the end.”
A Marik RBI double and Wood’s bloop RBI single in the fifth got the Vikings started. But with the bases loaded and two outs, Zach Lewis struck out looking against Joliet Catholic starter Cal Placher.
After his slap single scored Roger Wilson from second, Kevin White later scored on a Joliet Catholic infield error in the sixth. Mike Kornacker grounded out with the bases loaded to end the threat and the inning.
“Both Mike and Zach have been swinging the bats tremendously well, especially Zach, who’s been on fire,” Lotus said. “If you could draw it up, that’s what you want.”
The Vikings went down in order in the seventh. It was the second time in three seasons St. Laurence fell in the summer state semifinals.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” Lotus said. “It was a great couple of weeks and a really great summer overall. I found out a lot about a lot of players, and I couldn’t be more excited to take these guys into next spring.”
Kyle Estand threw 3⅔ innings in relief for St. Laurence, giving up one run on two hits with two strikeouts.