June 15, 2024
Illinois High School Sports

Baseball: Marmion back to .500 with win over St. Francis

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AURORA – Superb late-inning defense, a clutch two-run home run, and an RBI infield single in the sixth inning enabled Marmion’s baseball team to a 5-3 victory over St. Francis Monday afternoon in Aurora.

The Cadets, who reached the .500 mark at 10-10 overall, also defeated the Spartans (15-6) by a 5-3 score on Saturday.

“The job is not done,” said Cadets coach Aaron Nieckula. “We’re back to .500 but we’re not satisfied. It’s nice to beat a good opponent and win the series.

“It’s a long season for these kids — you’re going to have some ups and downs. We’re in a tough conference. We’re doing the best we can to be consistently good and minimize mistakes.”

Junior southpaw Jack Hughes went the distance for the Cadets, limiting the Spartans to eight hits — only two over the last three innings.

“Jack was really efficient,” said Nieckula. “He threw 83 pitches in seven innings. That’s pretty good against a good high school team. I don’t necessarily think he’s a strikeout pitcher, but he pitches to weak contact and allows the defense to make plays.”

That defense included a pair of outstanding catches by right fielder Adam Ozsvath, whose running stab of a liner off the bat of Joey Gainer turned into an inning-ending double play in the fifth. He added a sliding catch in the sixth.

“I was just having fun, playing the game, backing up my pitcher,” said Ozsvath, who had three hits and scored the eventual winning run in the sixth on Seth Vaghy’s two-out infield single.

“I’ve got to find a way to get on base with a runner on third,” said Vaghy, who dove head-first on the way to first base on the play. “It was just a hustle play. I saw the first baseman getting ready to stretch and knew I had to beat it out.”

Senior shortstop Jackson Sherman made a nice play on a grounder up the middle for the first out in the fifth, and junior third baseman Nathan Bostrand dove toward the line to snag a hard-hit ball for the first out in the seventh.

“Nate made a couple tremendous plays, and Sherman made a couple great plays up the middle,” said Nieckula. “Ozsvath in right — for me, that first jump off the bat allowed him to catch those balls and save runs. If those balls get down, they get a few more runners on base or score more runs.”

St. Francis grabbed a 3-1 lead after four innings on RBI singles from Cole Danner, Andrew Mueller, and Nicolas Sparacio before junior catcher Ethan Flores belted a two-run home run in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3.

Ozsvath’s bloop single drove Sherman across with an insurance run in the seventh, and Hughes retired the side in order while recording the complete game.

“Jack earned the right to go back out there in the seventh,” said Nieckula.

Junior right-hander Colt Armbrust worked five-plus innings for the Spartans before exiting with an apparent arm injury.

“We think it’s a nerve thing,” said Spartans coach Tom Ciombor. “We’re hoping and crossing our fingers. He pitched a heck of a game.”

The Spartans dropped their third straight game.

“We were 15-3 and just hit a little slide here,” said Ciombor. “We have Fenwick tomorrow. We beat Loyola and Brother Rice, so we feel confident that we’ll come back.”