Baseball: St Laurence steamrolls Marist in regional final

Updated: July 19, 2012 5:35PM

Watching his team play its fourth game in four days, St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus reminded the Vikings that no lead was safe Thursday.

Any number of things could shake things up, and the Vikings had to be ready for it all.

“You never know what’s going to go on in these (summer) games,” Lotus said. “No one has pitching (left) and the weather can get weird sometimes. There’s a lot that goes into it.”

Playing in the IHSBCA Richards Regional final, the top-seeded Vikings did little wrong and so many things right, cruising to an 11-1 six-inning win over Marist.

St. Laurence (17-4) pounded out 14 hits with starter Robert Gutierrez and Kyle Estand carrying the load on the mound. Lotus’ squad will play next week in the Phil Lawler Classic, the summer state tournament, with matchups still to be determined.

Chris Stearns (3-for-3, 3 runs), Brad Wood (2-for-4, 2 runs), Zach Lewis (1-for-3, 3 RBI) and T.J. Marik (3-for-3, 2 RBI) paced the Vikings lineup that led 10-0 through four innings before Marist scraped across a run in the top of the fifth.

“Once one of us gets a hit, it seems to flow through the entire lineup,” Lewis said. “We’re hitting the ball hard and into the gaps and drive the runners in. It’s working well.”

In the bottom of the first, Wood and Stearns led off the inning with singles with Mike Kornacker loading the bases with a walk. Lewis’ sacrifice fly to center started the scoring with Nate Tholl’s RBI single adding a second run.

Stearns and Lewis added RBI singles apiece in the second as St. Laurence went up 4-0.

“We’re just trying to get those runs around,” Stearns said. “I was trying to keep it down and hit the ball the other way. [Mike and Zach] are great hitters, and they’ll usually bring you in [to score] no matter what.”

The Vikings saved their best for the bottom of the third, sending 12 batters to the dish and scoring six runs on five hits. Marik’s two-run single that scored Kevin White and Ryan Rybakowski highlighted the offensive outburst.

“I’ve been seeing the ball a little better recently,” Marik said. “We’re finding the holes and hitting the ball really hard.”

Starting the game, Gutierrez was dominant at times in four-plus innings. The junior-to-be gave up a leadoff double to Tim Finucane in the second and walked Blake Bieniek, but struck out the next three batters to get out of the jam.

Gutierrez (4 1/3 innings pitched, four hits, three strikeouts) finally faltered in the fifth, issuing two walks and hitting a batter, but Estand allowed only one run in relief.

Bryan Polak’s RBI single up the middle scored Marty Mehalek and was all the offense Marist (9-6-1) could muster.

Estand struck out three batters in 1 2/3 innings of work.

“We were tremendous all day at the plate,” Lotus said. “We had good approaches all day, and Rob Gutierrez did a really good job, as well. He pitched two innings Monday, and you never know what will happen there.”

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