Mount Carmel had its first six games canceled because of inclement weather, leaving its players a little eager and frustrated.
The Caravan, however, looked in midseason form Friday against Bremen.
Mount Carmel, the defending Class 4A state champion, scored five runs in the first inning and coasted to a season-opening 8-2 win over the Braves at Chicago State.
Tabbed the Sun-Timess preseason No. 1, the Caravan certainly lived up to the billing.
“Yeah, it was nice to jump on them early,” Mount Carmel coach Brian Hurry said. “Getting a few runs on the board, it settled us down some.”
Marko Boricich pitched five strong innings, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out six. He didn’t allow a hit the first four frames.
It was the first time all season Boricich had faced live hitters.
“I was getting a little numb the last inning,” Boricich said pitching in the cold. “We’re trying to not to put pressure on ourselves. I like the energy we had.”
Ako Thomas looked the part of a leadoff man, reaching base four teams and driving in two runs.
“I came out with the mind-set to get on base and get some runs early,” said Thomas, who finished 3-for-4.
The biggest question mark surrounding the Caravan was how its newcomers would adapt to starting roles. On this day, A.J. Lewis, Nick Wheeler and Greg Ploszaj resembled seasoned veterans, going a combined 4-for-10, with three runs and three RBI. Sophomore Jeremy Houston, who was 1-for-4 at the plate, was flawless at shortstop.
“We’re going to need A.J., Jeremy, Nick and Greg to fill in for the guys we lost,” Hurry said. “We’re going to need their contributions.”
Lewis, Wheeler and Ploszaj all drove in runs in the first off Bremen starter Sean Grant, who didn’t get much help from his defense. Lewis and Ploszaj stroked run-scoring doubles, while Wheeler tripled to right field to score another run.
The Caravan tacked on three more runs in the third, highlighted by a two-run single by Thomas.
“We’re expecting Ako and all the returning guys to lead,” Hurry said. “Ako can do some damage at the top of the order for us.”
Scott Kapers reached base twice for the Caravan on a single and hit-by-pitch. Jordan Mikolajewski fired two innings of scoreless relief of Boricich.
Bremen (2-1), which had four hits, scored its two runs in the fifth on an RBI single by Ryan Lynch and a bases-loaded walk by Tyler Banovich.