Baseball: Kevin Smith propels St Laurence past Providence
Updated: April 21, 2012 5:30PM
On the mound and at the plate, St. Laurence junior Kevin Smith delivered. And he did so in the most critical situations Saturday.
In a matchup between Catholic League Blue heavyweights, Smith’s all-around performance pushed No. 2 St. Laurence to a 5-3 road victory at No. 6 Providence in New Lenox.
Offensively, Smith went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBI. His two-run, bases-loaded double in the top of the seventh to right field gave St. Laurence (21-1-1, 7-0) a 5-1 advantage — a cushion the Vikings would need to hold off a late Providence (14-5, 6-1) rally.
On the mound, the Creighton recruit pitched 6 1/3 innings, yielding five hits and two earned runs. The right-hander struck out four, walked two (one intentional) and hit on batter to improve to 5-0.
“I’ve been working on hitting the ball more to the right side,” said Smith of his big two-run double in the seventh. “Since I was pitching, I was gassed, I’m not going to lie. I just wanted to come through for the team.
“This is the most fun I’ve had in my entire life. We’re playing great baseball right now. … This was absolutely huge. All these guys, I don’t think we slept at all last night. We were ready to go.”
Smith held Providence’s offense in check all game. And when the Celtics mounted some momentum, he snuffed it out. For example, in the third inning, St. Laurence opted to intentionally walk Arizona-bound Ryan Koziol to load the bases with two outs. On a 3-2 pitch, with the runners in motion, Smith struck the batter out. Or in the sixth, when Kenny King led off the inning with a single, Smith quickly rolled a double play.
“Kevin was huge today,” said St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus. “He made some really big pitches when we needed them.”
Providence certainly made it interesting in the seventh, when Kevin Tully reached on an error to lead off the inning. An out later, Smith hit the next batter and followed with his only unintentional walk of the game to load the bases. Lotus brought in reliever Joe Siebenaler, who walked two runs in and recorded one out to make it 5-3.
Lotus went back to the pen, bringing in hard-throwing junior Zach Lewis to face Koziol with the bases loaded. The two battled to a 3-2 count before Lewis got him swinging on a fastball.
“That got way too interesting,” said Lotus. “That’s why this is such a great league. There are tough, hard-nosed kids anywhere you go. … This was a huge win for us on the road.”
Sophomore second baseman Mike Kornacker went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI for St. Laurence, and senior first baseman Brandon Mallder scored two runs and had a single to lead off the seventh.
“I think we had a lot of opportunities today and we didn’t take advantage of them,” said Providence coach Mark Smith. “But I was happy with the way the kids competed at the end.”