Breaking home on contact on a Jake Vera grounder, Luke Montgomery slid home under the tag.
St. Laurence had tied things back up in the state championship game, just needing to scratch one more run across for the winner.
However, a Vikings comeback win was not in the cards.
Playing at DuPage Medical Group Field in Joliet on June 8, St. Laurence lost 6-3 to Montini in the Class 3A state championship game.
It was the program’s first appearance in a title game. The Vikings finished third in Class 4A in 2017.
“[Tying the game] that’s what brings us up, what brings us together. We’re back in the game,” Montgomery said. “We were a lot better than we played today. That’s what’s disappointing, but I love these guys to death. You can’t be mad. We had a hell of a year.”
St. Laurence finished 34-6.
Star senior Matt McCormick, a West Virginia recruit and four-year varsity player, closed out a standout prep career with the title loss.
But in his time with the Vikings, McCormick saw the program rise to another level, winning 3 sectional titles, including the state run in 2017.
“It sucks right now. We thought we were going to win it,” McCormick said. “We wanted to make it down and win it all, especially not making it last year. You look at positives, you try to, but it’s tough.”
McCormick was also drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 40th round of the recent MLB Draft.
Scoring on a Vera fielder’s choice, Montgomery tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the fifth.
Montini broke through in the top of the sixth with 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks, including a 2-run double from Rocco Catalano into the left-field corner.
Chasing a 3-run deficit, St. Laurence went down in order in the sixth and seventh. Montgomery’s fifth-inning single was the team’s only hit after the first inning outburst.
Aggressive to the end, McCormick and his teammates swung when they saw their pitch.
“We hit the ball pretty hard at their guys,” McCormick said. “Their shortstop made some great plays. It seemed like every time we hit the ball, we hit it right at somebody. We like to get to bulllpens, but we do it hitting the ball hard and scoring runs. We want to be aggressive every time we get up to bat.”
Montini capitalized on 2 St. Laurence errors in the third to tie the game at 2. The Broncos went up 3-2 in the fourth.
“That definitely turned the game,” said St. Laurence Coach Pete Lotus. “It’s a couple plays we have made. This point in the season, it comes down to executing routine plays. That inning we didn’t do it.”
Montini southpaw Michael Koszewski (6-2) threw a complete-game gem, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks with 2 strikeouts.
St. Laurence junior lefty Chris Seropian (8-3) gave up 6 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. McCormick pitched a scoreless inning in relief with a strikeout.
Montgomery (2 hits, 2 runs, stolen base) led the offense. Vera (run) and Vito Valincius knocked in a run each.
St. Laurence beat Montini 15-12 in a Catholic League crossover on April 12.
Lotus has a record of 405-116 in 14 years coaching at his alma mater.
“Losing is unbelievably difficult,” Lotus said. “It’s tough to say goodbye every year. Making these deep runs, it makes it even more difficult. You can’t take away the memories and experiences of these last couple weeks.”
Montgomery, Valincius, Seropian and Matt Zahora lead a young core that is expected to return next season.
“We’ll be back next year,” Montgomery said. “We’ll be missing our seniors, all those guys, but I think we’ll be back next year.”