Top-ranked Brother Rice showed Thursday afternoon that even when its pitching isn't at its best, it has enough thunder in its lineup to persevere.

In a slugfest that featured a combined 36 hits, the Crusaders prevailed 16-12 against Marion Catholic in the opening game of the inaugural South Side Conference Challenge at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.

Trailing 9-6 heading into the sixth inning, Brother Rice (7-0) exploded for seven runs to take a 13-9 lead it would maintain the rest of the way. Purdue-bound ace Pat Gannon (3-0) gave up four runs (two earned) in three innings of relief but earned the victory.

Leadoff man Ricky Palmer was the sparkplug for the Crusaders, going 5-for-5 with with three doubles and driving in four runs. Kevin Callahan added a two-run home run.

In the second game, Mt. Carmel received five strong innings from ace Kevin Johnson but could not hold a late lead. Trailing 6-2, Joliet Catholic rallied for five runs in the seventh inning to escape with a 7-6 win.

St. Rita defeated Marist 6-4 in the nightcap. Joey Filomeno came in with runners on second and third with one out in the fifth inning and got out of it with two strikeouts. He then pitched two scoreless innings as St. Rita improved to 10-1.

Other Thursday games:


Addison Trail 6, Downers Grove North 5
Tyler Ramir was 3-for-4 for Addison Trail (4-6).


Ag. Science 9, Amundsen 8

Barrington 4, Cary-Grove 3
Tom Unak threw six innings, striking out six and walking one for Barrington (5-2).

Bartlett 9, Elgin 2

Crete-Monee 5, Thornwood 3
Chris Bass was 3-for-3 with three runs for Crete-Monee (3-3).

Eisenhower 3, Tinley Park 1
Rob Easton threw four innings, givin up one hit and striking out five for Eisenhower (4-6, 2-1 South Suburban).

Fenwick 12, Maine South 6
Mike Falsetti was 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs for Fenwick 7-1.