“If we win the first inning, we got a really nice shot of winning this ballgame.”
Loyola Academy baseball coach Josh Howard said that’s what he told his team prior to a rivalry matchup with red-hot New Trier on Tuesday, May 16.
The Ramblers obliged. Connor Lasch’s two-run first-inning homer got his team started, and Loyola took advantage of wild Trevians pitching to finish things off, winning the rivalry tilt 4-3 Tuesday at Loyola’s Munz Campus in Glenview.
“I don’t like saying one win is bigger than another … but that was a nice win for us to springboard us into the playoffs,” Howard said. “Inevitably we could see them (in the playoffs). Knowing we could come out on top is a nice feeling for these guys.”
The Ramblers celebrate around Connor Lasch after his first-inning home run Tuesday.
Postseason scheduling was set late last week. New Trier earned the No. 2 seed in the IHSA Class 4A Evanston Sectional, while Loyola landed in the ninth spot. The Wildkits are the sectional’s top seed, followed by the Trevians, Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South. The postseason begins with regional play next week.
Loyola is working on building up those nice feelings before then after emerging from a tough stretch in the Chicago Catholic League with a 6-11 league record.
After four straight losses to begin May, though, the Ramblers have won eight of 10 games to push their overall record over .500 at 16-15-1 with the victory against New Trier.
“15-15, not the best record record coming off last year, but the guys are really picking it up, playing for each other, putting hits together,” Loyola senior pitcher Michael Southard said. “The camaraderie this year is amazing. … This game was huge for a lot of us.”
Southard has been Loyola’s stopper out of the bullpen this season. He was brought in the sixth inning Tuesday to protect Loyola’s one-run lead.
New Trier pitcher Noah Shapo fields a bunt that turned into an infield single.
In the top of the seventh, however, New Trier had other ideas.
James Novakovic coaxed a leadoff walk, and pinch-runner Jackson McCarey moved to second base on a wild pitch and swiped third when the Ramblers looked the other way.
A walk put Graham Mastros on first base, and when Mastros got in a rundown, McCarey sprinted home to tie the ballgame before Southard closed out the frame.
But the even score was short-lived. In the home half off the seventh, the first two Ramblers reached base after being hit by pitches. They moved up a base thanks to Justin Trott’s sac bunt, and then Dylan King — pinch running for Michael Clarkson — scored on a wild pitch to end the game.
The ugly ending for New Trier was indicative of their entire day. The Trevians committed four errors, not including a couple mental mistakes not found in the scorebook.
“Very disappointed,” New Trier coach Mike Napoleon said. “This was a bad game. Just gotta wash it away and play tomorrow.”
Down 3-0 after two innings, the Trevians did fight back.
Trey Meyers walked and scored in the fourth thanks to an RBI groundout from Evan Olesker. In the fifth, Mastros reached on a Loyola error and came around to score on a Meyers’ double.
Loyola starter Marco Arroyo limited the potent Trevians lineup. He allowed just one run through four innings, striking out three and allowing three hits.
New Trier pitcher Trevor Byrnes tossed four scoreless innings in relief, and Dylan Mayer was 2-for-3 with a triple for the Trevs.
New Trier (23-5) returns to the diamond Wednesday, May 17, with a big league matchup at Maine South. Both the Trevians and Hawks sit atop the division at 12-3 and the winner will take home the Central Suburban South title.