Baseball: St. Viator cruises to 1st conference title in 20 years
It has been a long time coming for St. Viator.
Viator won its first East Suburban Catholic Conference baseball title since 2002 Monday when the Lions blasted Marist 12-2 at Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg before a large and very boisterous St. Viator fan base.
"This is a real special group this year," St. Viator coach Mike Manno said. "They just believe they are going to win every game. We got some big hits when we needed them and then put the game away."
The ESCC moved to a new format this season, breaking the conference into two divisions to set up the title game. The irony was that St. Viator would have won the conference title outright thanks to its 12-1 conference mark.
"It's my first conference title," said Manno, who is in his 17th year as head coach. "It just has been special."
St. Viator, which had their baccalaureate mass for their seniors at Boomers Stadium on Friday, still found the Schaumburg field blessed for them.
St. Viator (29-1) broke the game open in the fourth, sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring eight runs. The Lions pushed seven of those runs over after two were out.
Chase Carroll began the explosion with an RBI single, scoring Joe Bollard. The Lions then loaded the bases with two outs. Casey Hintz delivered the big blow with a bases-clearing double to right center.
"I was really trying to stay on top of the ball," Hintz said. "I knew he was going to come with the fastball. I just wanted to stay on it and drive it into the gap and I did."
Hintz, who is a senior and was the winning pitcher at Boomers Stadium when the Lions beat Nazareth back in April, says he loves being at this field.
"It feels amazing to be here," Hintz said. "It is good to be out here with the team. We have 27 guys that root for each other,"
That rooting continued hard and loud when Zan Von Schlegell followed with a triple that was in the exact spot as Hintz' hit, just 15 further. After Von Schlegell scored on a wild pitch, Dominic McKevitt belted a two-run double to make it 10-1.
It was wild second inning for both teams. But not in an explosive way.
Marist (14-14) scored in the top of the inning on a bases loaded wild pitch. But when the RedHawks got a bit greedy on another errant pitch, catcher Connor Nicholas tossed to Tony Pluta, who was covering home and put the tag on the runner for the final out of the inning.
St. Viator came back in its half of the inning and the Lions also scored on a wild pitch. Joe Bollard was hit by a pitch, stole second, advanced to third on a long fly by McKevitt and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 1-1.
The Lions pulled ahead 2-1 in their half of the third. Casey Hintz, who had walked earlier, scored on a sacrifice fly by Ian Farrell.
The Lions closed things out in the fifth after a solid relief appearance by Nick Napoleon.