Whatever the lackluster reason, whether it be Senior Day-it is, school finals or spring fever, Fenwick had a Friday to forget last week.
The Friars’ freaky Friday occurred during a 5-1 loss to Riverside-Brookfield in non-conference action at Ehlert Park in Brookfield.
After recently tussling with Catholic League Blue Conference juggernauts like St. Rita and Brother Rice, Fenwick (20-11) was inexplicably flat against area rival RB.
“There was a combination of things, but it just felt like one of those days,” Fenwick coach Dave Hogan said. “We had a letdown against RB. Taking nothing away from them because RB is a good baseball team, but we just didn’t show up mentally for the game.”
The Bulldogs entered the game red-hot, winners in 19 of 21 games while securing a second straight Metro Suburban Conference title.
The Friars took an early 1-0 lead when Mike Loni scored in the first inning, but RB (23-12, 13-2 Metro Suburban Conference) responded with a five-run burst, courtesy of timely hitting and some defensive miscues from Fenwick. Leadoff man Kevin Onischuk started the third inning with his RB record-setting 33rd walk of the season. After Onischuk advanced to second base, Dave Lutz drove him in on a hit-and-run play. Lutz and Scott Rysz continued to apply the pressure offensively with a double steal putting runners on second and third. The Bulldogs’ Matt Scott then hit a ball to the outfield which was misplayed, allowing RB to plate a pair of runs. The Bulldogs added a run on a Fenwick throwing error to build a 5-1 lead.
RB starter Zak Martell (6-2) tossed a two-hit, nine-strikeout gem while yielding no earned runs.
“It’s an important win,” RB coach Mike Ziroli said. “We have a little bit of a rivalry with Fenwick. RB typically hasn’t beaten Fenwick, so it’s a little sweeter for the guys to win this game.”
On Saturday, Fenwick quickly rediscovered the win column with a 6-3 victory over St. Patrick. George Kinsella picked up the win, allowing five hits and striking out two over five innings. Kevin Sweeney allowed one hit and fanned four in two innings of relief.
Offensively, Fenwick stars Cam Verbeke (signed with Illinois State) and Mike Falsetti (signed with Bradley) each went 2-for-3, highlighted by a home run blast from Verbeke. On the mound, Verbeke (9-3) has been outstanding all season. He recently had a 16-strikeout performance against Rolling Meadows.
“We have two All-State caliber players in Verbeke and Falsetti,” Hogan said. “We can play with anybody. Whether we can beat everybody, I don’t know.”
The Friars will start to find out that answer this week. Hosting a Class 4A regional, Fenwick plays Thursday (4 p.m.) at the Priory against the winner of South Shore vs. Kelly. If the Friars advance to Saturday’s regional championship game (1 p.m.), a match-up with St. Ignatius is probable.
“We ran into a real buzz saw playing the big boys [Brother Rice and St. Rita] a few weeks ago,” Hogan said. “We pick up the ball fine, but we need to eliminate throwing errors.”