Baseball: Carmel tames Marian aces with simple approach
Mike Stahoviak of the Corsairs makes a play at third during Sunday's doubleheader against visiting Marian Catholic. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:16AM
Baseball can be a very simple game.
Take Carmel Catholic’s East Suburban Catholic Conference opener on Sunday. Hosting Marian Catholic in a doubleheader, the Corsairs were facing the Hurricanes’ two horses: college-bound starting pitchers Rob Nunn (Western Illinois) and Brett Lilek (Arizona State).
Rather than trying to mash, Carmel came up with a more minimalist, yet still effective, approach.
“We don’t want to give away any outs by striking out or flying out,” said second baseman Blake Bucsa. “We put the ball in play, get their pitchers out of the game and get to their bullpen.”
Easier said than done, of course, though the strategy was executed flawlessly by the Corsairs on Sunday. In the first game, they jumped on Nunn in the second inning, scoring four runs. He was gone by the third, as Carmel scored eight runs off the Marian Central bullpen, cruising to a 12-2 victory.
The Corsairs scored those dozen runs on just nine hits, forcing seven walks and stealing three bases. If controlled chaos was a color, it would be brown and gold.
“We’ll steal,” said Carmel coach Joe May. “I don’t care if we get thrown out, we need to put their offense and their defense under pressure.”
It was a watered-down version in the second game, as Carmel got to Lilek in the third inning for three runs. The Corsairs added two more runs in the fifth, chasing the strong-armed Hurricane lefty, who was throwing in front of a dozen professional scouts. The Corsairs won the game 6-3, providing a template of how they expect to win in the always-competitive ESCC.
“Hitting behind runners, not going for gappers every time,” said Bucsa, hitting .324 with a .419 on-base percentage this season. “Take an out just to get the guy over.”
That’s a simple philosophy. It’s also a formula for winning a lot of baseball games.
Recap: The sweep over Marian Central Catholic was a perfect entry point for Carmel (10-5, 2-0) as the conference season begins.
“Our first goals this year is to win conference. The first doubleheader is always big,” May said. “We need to have the mentality we (were) going for a sweep.”
Hitting stars in the first game were Matt Ryan (2-for-5), who knocked in five runs. John Salvi (3-4) had three RBI, while Bucsa (2-for-4) and Duncan Amrein (2-for-4) each had an RBI.
Ryan pulled double duty, pitching a complete game for the win. The junior struck out four while allowing just three hits.
In the second game, Amrein pitched six innings of five hit ball for the win, striking out four. Texas Christian recruit Alex Young got the save, pitching a scoreless seventh.
Carmel dropped a 10-9 decision to Lakes on Monday. The Corsairs scored four runs in both the first and fourth innings, but Lakes got to starter Sean Terrett for seven runs in just over two innings.
Tyler Murphy (3-for-5) had a double and scored two runs. Michael Stahoviak (2-for-4) knocked in three runs and Josh Walinski (2-for-4) had two RBI.
Carmel beat Wauconda 5-2 on April 12, and lost to Lake Forest 6-5 on April 10.
Off the notebook: Get used to seeing pro and college scouts in the stands at Carmel games. Young is a potential draft choice, as are several other players in the ESCC.
May likes the attention, saying it has a carryover effect for other players.
“We talked to the kids before the season. There are going to be a lot of scouts at our games,” May said. “It’s not just an opportunity for the person getting scouted, but for everyone else. It gets the competitive juices flowing.”
On deck: Carmel hosts Grayslake Central at 4:30 p.m. today. The Corsairs will then visit Joliet Catholic for a doubleheader, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, and also will play St. Rita the same day — at Standard Bank Ballpark, in Crestwood, at 7 p.m.