Baseball: St Laurence overcomes errors, survives Crystal Lake South

Story Image Brad Wood, of St. Laurence, gets the ball to drop in shallow right for a single against Crystal Lake South for the state summer tournament, Monday, July 23th, 2012 in Naperville, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: July 23, 2012 11:12PM



When a team commits five errors and strands nine baserunners, it isn’t likely to win.

St. Laurence, despite hitting those less than stellar statistical signposts Monday against Crystal Lake South, still was able to pull off a 5-4 win in nine innings at the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Phil Lawler Classic at North Central College in Naperville.

The Vikings (18-2) advance to play Montini, a 5-1 winner over Jacobs, at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Benedictine University.

“We’re very, very fortunate to win this game,” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus said. “When you make five errors, you don’t win too many games.”

Roger Wilson came through with a bases-loaded single in the top of the ninth to score pinch-runner Bob Kelly for a 5-4 Vikings advantage. Mike Kornacker also tried to score on the base hit but was gunned down at the plate on a perfect throw by right fielder Paul Wille.

The Gators intentionally walked Zach Lewis, who was 2-for-4 with two doubles, to load the bases to bring Wilson to the dish.

“I knew I had to get a base hit,” said Wilson, who stroked a first-pitch fastball to right field. “It was awesome to get the big hit.”

Brad Wood nailed down the win, but not without a bit of drama in the bottom of the ninth. A two-out double by Wille made things interesting. Wood, though, got Tom Gaede on a flyout to right field to end it.

“I’m like, ‘Oh, no, here we go,’ ” Wood said after the two-out double. “I got a little worried. I didn’t want to play another inning.”

Wood led a 13-hit attack with a 3-for-5 effort.

St. Laurence couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game. The Vikings’ first three hitters — Wood (triple), Christ Stearns (single) and Kornacker (single) — all reached base as St. Laurence grabbed a quick 1-0 lead. A fielder’s choice by Wilson later in the inning upped the advantage to 2-0.

From there, Crystal Lake South pitcher Tyler Hall settled down, shutting down the Vikings while allowing just two hits over the next four innings.

“We started off hitting the ball real well,” Lotus said. “We didn’t do too much after that. We can play much better than we did.”

The Gators (20-4) were able to get one of those runs back in their half of the first inning on a Max Meitzler fielder’s choice grounder that scored Gaede (single).

The Vikings’ 2-1 lead stood until the fifth, when the Gators scored three runs off Kornacker on just one hit. St. Laurence committed four errors, allowing Crystal Lake South to take a 4-2 lead.

“Mike pitched really well,” Lotus said. “We didn’t do him any favors that inning. We’re much better defensively than we showed today.”

St. Laurence shook off the shoddy defensive play and responded with two runs in the sixth. Kornacker (2-for-3) and Lewis ripped back-to-back doubles to cut the gap to 4-3. An error by Gators shortstop Garrett Bright allowed Lewis to score the tying run.

Kornacker went six innings, scattering six hits, walking three and striking out three. All four runs were unearned. Wood allowed just the one hit while striking out two. St. Laurence catcher T.J. Marik ripped a pair of singles and gunned down a would-be Gators base-stealer with a perfect throw to second base.

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