Photo by Jeff Vorva
Chicago Christian’s Jeff Mayberry (left) and Dan Vos (right) celebrate a triple by teammate Tommy Moran Saturday that helped give the Knights a 4-1 victory and an 18-0 record heading into this week’s action.
Anyone who peeked at Chicago Christian’s baseball schedule before this season would not believe this but the Knights’ winning streak turned 18 on Saturday.
The Knights beat Metro Suburban Conference foe Illiana Christian, 4-1, in Palos Heights thanks in part to a bases-loaded triple by Tommy Moran in the sixth inning. The Knights enter this week with an 18-0 mark.
Before people start questioning the schedule of one of the smallest schools in the area, consider this – the Knight streak includes wins over larger schools Shepard (1-0) and Stagg (12-4) plus own a 4-0 victory Lincoln-Way East. East lost to one of the state’s elite teams, Brother Rice, 1-0 earlier in the season.
The Knights also won five games in the Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and four were decided by one run.
“I had a lot of confidence in this team at the beginning of the year,” Moran said. “I really felt we were going to have a good season and so far it’s been great. Our pitching has just been outstanding and we’ve been really good in all the other areas.’’
Knights coach Eric Brauer said the school-record winning streak is enjoyable but wasn’t expected.
“As players and coaches you never set out to win 18 straight,” he said. “We try to set ourselves up to win one game and to be ready to compete every day. We want to win every day. Surprised? Sure. So many things can go wrong in baseball that it’s hard to win that many.
“You don’t set out to do that, but you set out to try to win each game. What do you have to do that day to win and we’ve done a good job with that.’’
Out of the 18 victories, eight have been decided by three runs or less.
“I love them,” Moran said of the thrillers. “But I love every game that we win.’’
“The best thing we’ve done it to stay calm and loose,” Brauer said. “We have good senior leadership in that regard – guys who can really stay in the moment.’’
One of the top moments on a hot Saturday afternoon, when Moran, a Brother Rice transfer and Orland Park resident, broke the game open.
For five innings, the score was 1-1 and both offenses were lamenting lost opportunities with runners in scoring position.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, Moran fouled off three pitches before delivering a 350-plus foot triple to center field to bring home Dan Vos, Jeff Mayberry and Matthew McCarthy.
“I was looking for a pitch to hit,” Moran said. “As soon as I saw that pitch, I knew I had to hit it. I didn’t think it was going out (for a home run) but I knew I got a good piece of it.’’
“That was a very tough at-bat,” Brauer said. “His two-strike hitting was fantastic. I think he might hit better with two strikes than he does with any other count.’’
Pitchers Tyler Edgar and John Vander Wall combined for the victory and Edgar tripled in Zach Frieling with the first run of the game in the fourth inning.
The Knights were scheduled to play Timothy Christian Monday at home and Tuesday in Elmhurst and visit Riverside-Brookfield today, Thursday, so they might be aiming for No. 21.