Jack McElroy's complete game effort helped St. Viator earn a split with Marian Catholic on Saturday in the Lions' East Suburban Catholic League opener in Arlington Heights.
McElroy limited the Spartans to just 5 hits in the opener and got a key game ending double play as the Lions took the opener 5-3. But Marian Catholic came back in the night cap to bang out 15 hits and gain an 8-6 victory.
"I thought we played well in the first game," St. Viator coach Mike Manno said. "I thought our approach at the plate was very good and McElroy pitched very well.
"I don't think they did anything different on the mound in the second game. We just took a lot of pitches we should not have taken, and were swinging at pitches we normally don't. And our pitching in the second game wasn't as solid."
McElroy, who improved to 3-1 on the season, was indeed solid, especially in the clutch for the Lions (14-4, 1-1).
He pitched out of jam in the first inning and watched as his team spotted him a couple of runs. Back-to-back doubles by Matt Prazuch and Matt Darling scored 1 run, and Darling scored on Bobby Calmeyn's RBI single.
McElroy, who sailed through the next two innings, allowing just 1 hit out of the infield. He gave up a pair of runs in the fourth as Marian Catholic (8-6, 1-1) strung together a couple of hits to tie the game at 2-2.
St. Viator regained the lead in its half of the inning. Joe Barndt led off with a single and eventually score on a wild pitch. Prazuch, who reached on an error, then scored on Darling's second double of the game.
"It was looking good in the cages before the game," said Darling, who had 4 hits for the day. "I got some good swings out there when we started playing."
The Lions were able to push across an insurance run in the fifth. Calmeyn single and went to second on a bunt by Pete Meyer. Calmyn then advanced to third on an error off a failed pickoff at second and scored on Jack Napoleon's single.
McElroy, who kept the Spartans at bay in the fifth and sixth, gave up a run in the seventh to make it 5-3. Marian Catholic had runners on the corners with one out, but McElroy induced a grounder up the middle. Shortstop Kevin Monson fielder the ball right over second base and fired a missile to Brandt at first to close out the game.
"I felt comfortable out there today," McElroy said. "I knew my defense would make plays behind me. I got more in the rhythm as the game went along. And I got that big play at the end to help."
St. Viator appeared to be on its way to a sweep in the second game, building a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the second.
Ben Dickey score in the first on a double steal and St. Viator tallied 3 times in the top of the second. Prazuch had a 2-run single, plating Napoleon and Brandt, and Monson later scored on a wild pitch.
But Marian Catholic's bats would come alive from there. The Spartans used 5 extra-base hits to pull ahead 8-5 after 5 innings. The Lions tried to rally in the final two innings, but were able to only scratch out 1 run.
"We were a bit passive in the second game," said Napoleon, who had 2 hits in the second game. "I thought we swung the bats well early, but just couldn't seem to get things going."
Despite the loss in the second game, Manno likes how his team is playing.
"We are having a good year," Manno said. "We knew coming into the conference it would be tough. I think playing doubleheaders are tough. Regardless if you win the first game or not, it is just hard to get a sweep."