After a summer in which Prospect's promising high school baseball team continued to make strides, St. Laurence put a stop to the Knights' progress on Monday morning in Naperville.
In the first game of the Lawler Summer Classic, the summer championship tournament held by the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Assocation, St. Laurence overcame a rough start and ended up rolling past Prospect 12-4 at North Central College.
The outcome put St. Laurence (15-2) into winner's bracket play against Nazareth at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Benedictine University in Lisle, while Prospect stuck around to refuel before meeting Glenbrook North in an elimination game at 3 p.m. Monday.
And just like that, Justin Placko and Lucas Karz got Prospect back on track.
Placko was dominant on the mount, while Karz doubled twice and drove in 2 runs as the Knights handled the Spartans 5-0. Trey Compton and Tyler Damasky each singled and drove in a run, and Pat Donohue also had a hit for Prospect.
Next up for Prospect is the winner of Monday night's Prairie Ridge/Downers Grove South game at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at Benedictine. A win there would put the Knights into another elimination game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Benedictine.
The semifinals will be at 5 and 7 p.m. Wednesday at Benedictine, and the championship game is slated for 7 p.m. Thursday at Benedictine.
Against St. Laurence, things started great for Prospect (25-6-1). A two-out walk to Mike Piotrowski was followed by singles from Karz, Grant Miller and Compton before an error allowed another 2 runs to score, putting the Knights up 4-0 after the top half of the first.
St. Laurence left-handed starter Anthony Robles settled down after that inning, though, and didn't allow another hit through the next 4.
Prospect starter Danny Devereux, meanwhile, struggled with control. In the first inning, a two-out walk was followed by consecutive hit-by-pitches, which set the table for a 2-run single from Frank Greco.
In the second inning, a walk and two more HBP's allowed another St. Laurence run to score, but Prospect still led 4-3.
In the third, St. Laurence took control with 5 hits and 4 runs as a Prospect error extended the inning.
The result was a disappointment to a Prospect team that was in the thick of the Mid-Suburban East race all spring and returned most of its players from that team for summer ball.
"We know we can play better," said Knights shortstop Jake Cavaiani, who had the key hit in the regional championship game to put Prospect among the tournament's final eight teams. "We know we have the ability to play with teams like this."
A pair of St. Laurence relievers didn't give up much to Prospect in the final 2 innings, and the Knights finished with just 4 hits. What bothered Prospect coach Ross Giusti wasn't the lack of late-game offense, though.
Walks, hit by pitches and a total of 5 errors helped St. Laurence maximize its 10 hits, only one of which went for extra bases.
"We can't give away freebies like that," Giusti said. "We gave away too much."
Prospect was much stingier with Placko on the mound. He threw 47 of his 82 pitches for strikes, and while he walked four, Glenbrook North could manage only 2 hits.
The Knights also applied some pressure of their own on the basepaths against Glenbrook North, with 2 steals by Brendan O'Brien and 1 each for Piotrowski and Ryan Molini.
• Crystal Lake South advanced to a 10 a.m. Tuesday matchup at North Central by beating Downers Grove South 10-3 on Monday.