Baseball: St Laurence tops Oak Park-River Forest in Bajenski tournament
Updated: May 17, 2012 10:37PM
In the opening game of a double-header to start the Steven Bajenski tournament, players from St. Laurence and Oak Park-River Forest came together to honor Steve Bajenski at second base at Silver Cross field in Joliet on Thursday.
After the No. 3 Vikings’ Barndon Mallder started the game with a pop-up to third, both benches cleared and gathered at second base. All the players doffed their caps and shouted ‘Stevie’ in honor of Bajenski who played second base for Mount Carmel but passed away before his senior year from complications following heart surgery in 2009.
‘‘It was (Oak Park coach) Chris’ (Ledbetter) idea,’’ Vikings coach Pete Lotus said. ‘‘I played (semi-pro baseball) for 10 years with Mark (Bajenski) and Stevie was always hanging around. Most of those guys were older than me so Stevie and I ended up playing catch out in the parking lot. He was a great person. He played the game the right way.’’
Lotus’ team captured the victory with a 6-1 win. The game helped get the Vikings out of a hitting rut they had been in lately. Kevin Smith got two big hits for St. Laurence (28-4-1). The junior shortstop drove in a pair with a sharp single up the middle to give his team a 2-0 lead.
Smith later picked up his third RBI of the game on a base hit to left field that brought in Brad Wood. Wood reached base safely in all four plate appearances. The sophomore third baseman had two walks, a single and an RBI double.
‘‘We were out there just looking at each other at first,’’ Smith said. ‘‘Then somebody said ‘Stevie on three’. Everyone’s face lit up with a smile after that. I can’t even begin to know what that must feel like for his family.’’
Zach Lewis improved to 6-1 after pitching around danger in a couple of innings. Ryan Rybakowski made a spectacular diving catch in deep right-center field in the first inning that might have gone for a two-run homer off the bat of Jack Picchiotti on most high school fields.
Mike Solofra was 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI for the Vikings.
Oak Park dropped to 23-8-1.