Mount Carmel’s pop too much for Clemente
Updated: June 2, 2011 8:31PM
Mount Carmel has built one of the state’s top baseball programs on a foundation of small ball: pitching, defense and moving runners along.
But the Caravan is displaying a little more pop this spring, even if it’s not by design. Mount Carmel slugged its way into the final of its own Class 4A sectional, hitting three home runs Thursday in a 12-2, six-inning win over Clemente.
That assured another playoff showdown Saturday at 11 a.m. between Mount Carmel (30-7) and Oak Park-River Forest (29-9). It’s the third straight sectional final meeting between the teams; the Caravan won two years ago and Oak Park prevailed last season.
Setting up the rematch was a breeze for Mount Carmel, which jumped ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning Thursday and never trailed. Sam Kint and T.J. Laurisch hit back-to-back homers off Clemente starter Jonathan Figueroa, Kint’s coming with Jerry Houston aboard.
“He left a fastball up high,” Kint said. “I like those pitches, so I jumped on it.”
“I guessed curveball and guessed right,” Laurisch said. “I was seeing the ball pretty well.”
Clemente (23-7) cut the deficit to 3-2 in the second when Marcelino Rodriguez slugged a two-run homer off Laurisch (8-2). But the Wildcats got just one more runner past first base as Laurisch settled down.
The Caravan didn’t stop hitting, however. Tom Hayes continued the power surge, slugging a three-run homer to right-center in the third to make it 6-2. Mount Carmel added a run in the fourth, four in the fifth – including a pair on Josh Gaal’s single – and the game-ender on Laurisch’s RBI single in the sixth.
“We don’t rely on home runs a lot,” Laurisch said, a point Kint and Caravan coach Brian Hurry confirmed.
“(Hitting the ball) down and hard up the middle, that’s what our coaches preach to us,” Kint said.
“Our approach is to try and hit the ball up the middle – not worry about the home runs,” Hurry said. “Just try to hit the ball right back at the pitcher. We feel that approach will lead to home runs if you just concentrate (on that).”
Laurisch was 3-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI, while Kint went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. Gall (2-for-3, run, 2 RBI) and leadoff man Chris Sujka (2-for-4, run, RBI) also contributed to a 12-hit attack.
Laurisch finished with a seven-hitter, walking none and striking out five.
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “I know I didn’t have the best stuff I’ve had all year, but I was able to get the ball over and that’s a great thing.”
Robert Berdicia (2-for-2, run) and Jeremiah Figueroa (2-for-3) paced Clemente.