Baseball: St. Viator sophomores Clary, Thomsen combine against Notre Dame

Frank Clary and Brandon Thomsen don’t have any classes together at St. Viator.

But the sophomores were on the same page Thursday in Arlington Heights. Clary pitched while Thomsen caught and hit to lead St. Viator past Notre Dame 4-3.

The win gave the Lions (11-4, 4-1) a three-game sweep over the Dons. It also put St. Viator in a great position in the ESCC North Division.

“We are playing team baseball and getting lots of contributions from lots of guys,” St. Viator coach Terry Beyna said. “Frank Clary stepped up. We knew we were facing the kid who was pitcher of the year last season. Frank got us deep into the game.”

The game also ended a brutal conference stretch for the Lions. They played five conference games in the last six days. Besides sweeping Notre Dame, the Lions lost to defending Class 3A champion Nazareth last Saturday and beat Marian Catholic on Wednesday.

“We were playing a ton of games,” Beyna said. “Alistair (Kanyuh) started the week. And we just kept challenging our guys with the next guy’s turn. And every guy answered the call.”

Including Clary.

Clary, making just his second varsity start, went 6⅔ innings and struck out 10. He outdueled Notre Dame’s Nick Baffa, who is committed to Valparaiso, to pick up his first win.

“It was pretty good,” Clary said. “I learned after my first start, which didn’t go well, that I have to be confident on the mound. And that the guys behind me will help me out.”

Clary got some solid defensive plays from Aidan Marshal, Jeff Beckert, Charlie Ferrara and Brock Harrer that kept the Dons off the basepaths.

“My defense helped out a lot,” Clary said. “When I pitched to contact, I ended up getting strikeouts too.”

St. Viator gave Clary some early breathing room when they put up a pair of runs in their half of the first inning.

Beckert walked and moved to second on the first of Thomsen’s three hits. Beckert went to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch. Jake Lund, a courtesy runner for Thomsen, then scored on Zach Mascolo’s single.

Notre Dame (6-5, 0-4), which has lost five straight, rallied in the top of the second inning.

Clary got a bit wild and Notre Dane took advantage. The Dons parlayed a pair of walks and three singles into a trio of runs to take a 3-2 lead.

After that second inning Clary settled in quite nicely. He allowed just one hit before retiring 11 batters in a row. Beyna opted to pull him after a two-out single in the top of the seventh.

The Lions made that effort stand up.

Thomsen led off the third with a sharp single to left that scooted under the outfielder’s glove, allowing Thomsen to cruise into second. From there Lund, running again, made things interesting.

He advanced to third on a groundball deep in the hole on left side. He started to third, then went back to second before racing to third, beating the throw from the first baseman back to third.

If that wasn’t adventurous enough for him, his scoring play was even more amazing.

Lund broke for the plate after a wild pitch. But he slipped about 3/4 of the way down the line. When he tried to get back up, the ball was thrown and struck Lund, bounding away. He still had the strength to score to tie the game at 3-3.

The Lions took the lead for good in the fifth. Beckert led off with a sharp double. He then scored when Thomsen followed with a double of his own to make it 4-3.

“Clary and I are good on the field together,” Thomsen said. “He threw exceptional today. It was a good day to hit and good day to hit for us.”

Beyna went with Mike Zawilenski, who was making his first varsity appearance as a reliever. Zawilenski fell behind the batter, only to fight back and record a strikeout to clinch the sweep.

“That’s his first time pitching this year,” Beyna said, “closing the game like that.”

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