Baseball: Minooka holds off Lemont for third WJOL title
Updated: March 31, 2012 10:38PM
The bats of junior third baseman Joe Carnagio and senior right-fielder Carson Neushwander sizzled throughout the seventh annual WJOL/Joliet Central Area Baseball Invite, and as a result, Minooka celebrated its third championship in the seven-year event.
Carnagio, the tournament MVP, and Neushwander each singled, doubled and drove in a run as the Indians grabbed a 7-0 lead, then held on to beat Lemont 9-5 in the championship game Saturday night at Silver Cross Field.
Minooka beat Joliet Catholic 4-2 and Lemont trumped Providence 10-4 in the semifinals to relegate the match-up many were anticipating to the third-place game.
“It was awesome to be the MVP and tournament champions,” Carnagio said. “Right now, the ball is looking like a beach ball to me. But it [MVP] couldn’t have been done without my teammates.”
Minooka (6-3) broke a scoreless tie against sophomore left-hander Charlie Wright with three runs in the bottom of the second and could have had more if not for a baserunning mistake. Neushwander ignited the rally with a double. Carnagio singled him home and Dane Colvin knocked in two more with a single.
“There were so many good teams in this tournament that for us to come out on top, it was quite an accomplishment,” Colvin said. “I went up there trying to get the ball in play and get those runs in.”
It appeared to be a done deal when Minooka scored four more in the fourth, an uprising sparked by Carnagio’s long double and highlighted by Nick Fleischauer’s two-run single and Neushwander’s RBI single.
“The whole team is hitting well now,” Neushwander said. “I’m in a good groove at the plate.”
But despite trailing by a touchdown, there was no quit in Lemont (4-3). With two on and two outs in the fifth, Tyler Jay chopped an infield hit and an error scored the first run. Jeff Worsech singled in one and Mike Papierski doubled in two to make it 7-4 and knock out junior left-hander Josh Mitchell, who had been masterful through four innings.
Steve Szymanski relieved, got out of the fifth, but hit the first two batters in the sixth. Gio Schmitt’s single cut the deficit to 7-5, but two Lemont errors in the bottom of the sixth allowed Minooka to add two insurance runs, and Szymanski closed it out in the seventh.
“I changed my speeds well with my breaking ball,” said Szymanski, who saved both victories Saturday.
“We’ve had big wins over top teams,” Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic noted. “Hitting is contagious. Once a couple of guys start hitting, the whole team wants to get up there and hit. That’s what happened this weekend.”
Petrovic said he is “really happy a great kid like Carnagio is having good success. I really enjoy coaching this team.”
Minooka senior right-hander Kevin Ruff made the big pitches and his teammates were spot on with their two-out hitting in a 4-2 victory over Joliet Catholic.
“The kid (Ruff) did a real nice job,” Voss said. “And you have to give it to them. They got a lot of big two-out hits.”
Neushwander delivered a two-out RBI single in the first inning and two-out RBI triple in the third after Fleischauer’s two-out single drove in Tyler Thorson, with an assist from Thorson’s aggressive baserunning. Max Brozovich singled home Carnagio after his two-out double in the fourth. Neushwander had three hits, Thorson and Carnagio two.
The Indians were solid defensively behind Ruff. He worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits. Szymanski relieved and struck out the two batters he faced.
“All my pitches were working today,” Ruff said. “I got them to put the ball in play and our defense, especially the outfield, made the plays.”
“The kids did a good job holding it together whenever things went a little awry,” Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic said. “Kevin held it together.”
Alex Voitik singled and doubled for the Hilltoppers, who stranded nine and had two runners thrown out on the bases.
Lemont reached the title game with a 10-4 victory over Providence. The Celtics led 2-0 on King’s two-run single, but the Indians erased that with a six-run second inning and never looked back.
Worsech’s two-out, two-run single gave Lemont a 5-2 lead and Tyler Jay added an RBI single to cap the rally. Jay went 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Wright went 2-for-3 and drove in three.
“This was the best offensive performance we had all year,” Lemont coach Joe Rodeghero said.
King was 2-for-4 with two RBI and Sam Tidaback 2-for-4 with a double for Providence. Winning pitcher Freddie Schuett (2-0) allowed two runs and four hits over five innings.
“Freddie had a super performance,” Rodeghero said. “He really pitched well.”
Plainfield Central whipped Lockport 10-3 behind senior right-hander Anthony Cunniff and Plainfield South downed Joliet West 4-1.
Ryan had a single and two-run double and Sporacio an RBI triple for Central. Austin Kolmodin ripped a two-run double for Lockport.
“Anthony (Cunniff) challenged the hitters and we made the plays behind him,” Central coach John Rosner said.
Plainfield South broke a scoreless tie with a four-run fifth and beat Joliet West 4-1. Austin Howarth tripled to ignite the big inning, Mike Turk squeezed him home and Jesse Small capped the uprising with a three-run double for a 4-0 lead.
Julian Clouse pitched six innings for South, allowing a run and fourhits. Enrique Perez struck out the final hitter in the seventh with the tying run at the plate.