LaBrae wins rare showdown with JFK
NILES – Whoever thought it was a good idea for the John F. Kennedy and LaBrae baseball teams to not play each other didn’t consult the players.
“I think it’s awesome that we got to see them,” Vikings third baseman Blake Sprague said after his team’s 6-5 win. “We know a lot of their players and it’s awesome to play here (at Eastwood Field).”
Chandler Diles, the Eagles’ catcher, played on LaBrae Athletic Club teams with many of the current Vikings growing up.
“It was cool to catch up with him and see how he’s doing now,” Sprague said.
Kennedy coach Don Lee believes the reincarnated rivalry of schools that are just 6.2 miles apart was long overdue.
“I’ve coached here 28 years,” he said, “we never played them. Not that I didn’t want to play them, it just didn’t happen.
“I’m so glad we’re playing them. (LaBrae coach Rick Aldridge) already wants to schedule me next year. That’s a great thing.”
Aldridge added, “They’re a great group of coaches and they have an excellent program. It’s something we’ll definitely take into the next few years.”
Tyler Shiamone collected the first of his two hits to lead off the game and scored on the first of Sprague’s two RBIs. The Vikings (5-2) scored five runs in the third inning, collecting five of their 11 hits in the frame.
“We were going nuts,” Sprague said. “It was ecstatic in the dugout.”
Sprague, a junior, is joined by his younger brother, Grant, who is a freshman. Grant scored a run and pitched 2 innings.
“It’s the first time my brother and me have been able to play on the same team together,” Grant said. “Him and the older guys have really taught me how to play as a team and stick together.”
That lesson was key as the Eagles (2-5) started a comeback.
Diles scored their first run on a Ryan Wolfe sacrifice fly in the third inning. Diles finished with two runs scored and three hits. Dominic Naples led off the bottom of the sixth with a double and scored on Diles’ single, closing the deficit to 6-4. With two outs in the seventh, Kennedy shortstop Preston Caparanis drove in John Hilty before Dante Munno’s deep fly out to center field ended the game.
“I’m happy with the effort to battle until the end,” Lee said.
Wolfe relieved Alec Rossi and pitched five shutout innings, allowing just four hits.
“He plays the field in summer ball,” Lee said. “The only time he gets to pitch is with me in high school. He does a nice job.”
Shiamone, Chris Mathews and Jacob Kaschak each had two hits for LaBrae. Nick Hendrix started and earned the win, allowing just three hits in three innings with two strikeouts.