Baseball: Joel Rotkvich, St Laurence topple Brother RiceSt. Laurence's Zach Lewis pitches against Brother Rice during their baseball game in Burbank Wednesday, May 9, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:00PM
When he strolled to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning with the potential game-winning run on second base Wednesday, St. Laurence’s Joel Rotkvich did precisely what he’s been coached to do.
“The coaches teach us to see the pitch deep, see fastball and take it to right field,” said Rotkvich, a senior.
Rotkvich did just that, drilling a 1-and-2 fastball from Brother Rice’s Garrett O’Neill over the head of right fielder Wendall Ferguson. The double easily scored Nick Altobella for a 1-0 Vikings win in Burbank.
Altobella started the inning with a single and moved to second on Ryan Rybakowski’s sacrifice bunt.
The victory brought the No. 1 Vikings (27-3-1, 13-2) one step closer to their second straight Catholic League Blue title.
“A great job by Joel coming through with two strikes,” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus said. “Nick had a big hit to lead off the inning.”
It was a classic pitchers’ duel between O’Neill and St. Laurence’s Zack Lewis. O’Neill, a senior, scattered five hits in going the distance. He walked three, hit three and struck out four during a magnificent 109-pitch effort.
Lewis, a junior, matched O’Neill pitch for pitch through eight innings. Lewis allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out nine, including five looking.
“Zack was great,” Lotus said. “He throws eight innings and doesn’t get the win.”
Brad Wood, who reached base four times on a double, a walk and two hit-by-pitches, got the win with one inning of relief.
“What a great game by both teams,” Brother Rice coach Johnny McCarthy said. “The guys played as hard as they could. Garrett did an outstanding job and worked out of a few jams.”
St. Laurence stranded seven runners. Mike Solofra and Lewis had singles for the Vikings.
Brother Rice (17-12, 8-7) stranded nine on the bases, including runners on the corners in the eighth and ninth innings.
Ferguson had two hits, while Redic Richardson, Sean McGrath and Mike Reilly had one apiece for the Crusaders.