The St. Ignatius baseball field, Rice Park, is located behind a bank off Roosevelt Road. The setting proved fitting because pretty much everything Mount Carmel hit was money.
Behind the superb play of first baseman Malik Carpenter and shortstop Jeremy Houston, the No. 3 Caravan pounded six extra base hits, two home runs and registered 14 hits in smashing the host Wolfpack 14-3 in five innings on Wednesday afternoon.
With the perfect weather and tight dimensions of Rice Park, the hitters enjoyed most of the advantages. St. Ignatius hovered close through three innings thanks to its own long ball prowess. Mount Carmel (12-1, 2-0 Catholic Blue) had too many weapons.
“One through nine [batters] they have college players through their whole lineup,” St. Ignatius coach Sean Mason said.
Mount Carmel starter Aaryn Chandler ran his record to 3-0 in pitching four innings, allowing three runs, five hits, three walks and striking out one. Gabe Sanchez retired the Wolfpack in order in the fifth.
Carpenter went 2-for-2 and drove in four runs with a monster two-run blast over dead center in the first inning following a double by center fielder Josh Stowers. It was the first home run of the year for the Chicago State-recruit.
“I didn’t know it was going to be a home run because the ball was on a line,” Carpenter said.
He added a two-run single during the Caravan’s five-run fourth inning.
“It was a slow fast ball and I just sat and waited on it.”
Houston also impressed by knocking in four runs on 3-for-4 hitting that featured a run-scoring double, an RBI-single and a two-run single in the fifth that punctuated the rout. Houston broke a personal dry spell with the three hits.
“I’d been struggling with my hitting lately,” Houston said. “Coming into the game, I felt pretty good and my confidence was high. The difference today was I just settled down at the plate and I didn’t think too much about how I was swinging.”
His play marked just how dangerous, versatile and deep the Caravan lineup runs. Houston, right fielder Nick Wheeler (solo home run) and designated hitter Bob Seymour (2-for-4, 2 RBI) are the team’s 6-7-8 hitters and they combined for six hits and six runs batted in.
“The team does really good just trying to get on base anyway possible.”
St. Ignatius star junior centerfielder Dylan Gilbert (1-for-3, RBI) and third baseman Scott Cappis (1-for-3, 2 RBI) blasted opposite field home runs, in the first and third inning, as the Wolfpack (5-5, 0-2 Catholic White) trailed just 5-3 after three innings.
Two walks and a hit batter opened the floodgates for the Caravan in the fourth inning, setting up Carpenter’s shot into left field for a two-run single. Houston’s two-run single in the fifth keyed the three-hit, four-run fifth inning for the Caravan.
“You just can’t give a team with those kind of abilities that many opportunities at the plate,” Casey said. “We were right with them for three innings.”