St. Laurence’s Chris Seropian has enough pop on his fastball to be effective.
But if the junior left-hander wanted to be one of the team’s top pitchers, he needed to fine-tune his off-speed stuff. It meant being able to locate his curveball and change-up.
“Early in the season, we knew Chris would throw strikes with his fastball and be competitive,” Vikings coach Pete Lotus said. “But the key for him has been throwing his off-speed pitches for strikes.
“When he does that, he’s shown he’s a special pitcher.”
Seropian was special for much of Saturday’s Class 3A state championship game. A pair of defensive miscues in the third inning, though, were costly in a 6-3 loss to Montini at DuPage Medical Group Field in Joliet.
The second-place finish goes goes down as the best in program history for St. Laurence (34-6), which finished third in 4A in 2017 and third in Class AA in 1993.
Seropian (8-3) struck out four and allowed six hits and two walks over six innings against Montini (23-11), which lost 15-12 on April 12 to St. Laurence. Two of the six runs he gave up were unearned.
He was cruising along in the third inning before consecutive one-out errors allowed the Broncos to score two runs and force a 2-2 tie.
The momentum clearly shifted, and Montini had new life.
Luke Montgomery went 2-for-3 for St. Laurence. Jake Vera and Vytas Valincius drove in runs.
Seropian felt the key to success this season has been his willingness to attack hitters.
“I can make that inside pitch,” he said. “Most of the time, I’ve been able to keep my curveball down in the strike zone. That’s been a big help, too.”
The Vikings couldn’t have asked for a better start Saturday. Their first three hitters — Montgomery, Vera and Matt McCormick — singled. Valincius then walked to drive in a run.
A double play grounder by Marc Babicz scored another run for a 2-0 lead.
Afterward, Lotus lamented how the Vikings didn’t take greater advantage, however.
“In that situation, we’d like to have more runs,” he said. “But it was a tough day to hit.”
The Vikings had one hit the rest of the game — a single by Montgomery in the fifth. He scored on a fielder’s choice by Vera to create a 3-3 tie.
Montgomery hoped that jolt of momentum would carry the Vikings to victory.
“We felt like that brought us all together and we were back in the game,” he said.
But Montini scored three runs in the top of the six to take control, getting a boost from a two-out, two-run double by Rocco Catalano and an RBI single by Estevan Moreno.
St. Laurence made solid contact against Montini starter Michael Koszewski but was foiled by hitting right at the defense.
McCormick, a West Virginia recruit and one of the Southland’s most prolific hitters, was disappointed by the outcome.
“We hit the ball hard,” McCormick said. “We wanted to get down here and win it all. It stinks right now.”