At the start of April, the Fenwick baseball team will run a gauntlet of sorts, taking on imposing Catholic League clubs Mount Carmel, St. Laurence, Brother Rice and Providence in a six-day span. The following week, the Friars hop a plane for Orlando, Fla. to play in the Disney Wide World of Sports Tournament (April 9-12).

With so much excitement on the horizon, it certainly would be understandable if the Friars were caught looking ahead to the Catholic League’s version of Murderers’ Row, not to mention Mickey, Minnie and the Sunshine State. Instead, a focused Fenwick club improved to 3-0 on the young season with a 13-3 dismantling of Jones last week. The Friars have also beaten Walther Lutheran 6-4 and Proviso West 8-6 this season in other nonconference matchups.

The Friars took control early against Jones with sevens runs in the bottom of the first inning. Joe Patzelt doubled home Ryan Fitzgerald to trigger the offensive merry-go-round. Courtesy runner Brian Keegan stole third base and scored on a throwing error to push the lead to 2-0. After Sam Ainsworth singled, Jack Forde reached base via hit-by-pitch; then Jim Sweeney walked and catcher Drew Schroeder crushed a grand slam over the left field fence to all but ice the game at 6-0. Scott Reither walked and scored on a Fitzgerald double to close the scoring outburst at 7-0.

The relentless Friars tacked on two runs in the third inning, a run each in the fourth and fifth frames, and finally two more runs in the sixth to complete their lopsided victory. Schroeder paced Fenwick with four RBI while Fitzgerald (four hits for the game) and Paul O’Toole both knocked in a pair of runs.

On the mound, Patzelt worked four effective innings and Cal Laird added two innings of shutout relief to keep the Jones offense at bay. Both hurlers fanned a pair of hitters.

The Friars will remain busy this week with single home games at the Priory against Proviso East (Monday, 4:15 p.m.), Guerin (Tuesday, 4 p.m.), Leo (Thursday, 4:30 p.m.) and then an 11 a.m. Saturday doubleheader vs. Kenwood.

Fenwick is gunning for a season comparable to last year’s spring campaign, which produced a 21-15 record and a Chicago Catholic League White Division title. Fenwick head coach Dave Hogan, who has amassed over 675 career wins, was named the Catholic League’s 2011 Coach of the Year.

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...