Fenwick seniors Quinn Snarskis and Kevin Forde form one of the top pitching duos in the state. The close friends, who will play college baseball together at Division II St. Joseph’s in Rensselaer, Ind., next season, led the Friars to the Von Steuben Regional title of the Class 4A playoffs on Monday.
Fenwick edged New Trier 2-1 in nine innings in the regional final as Snarskis pitched brilliantly through eight innings to earn the win before Forde worked an inning of relief for the save. Snarskis allowed one run and scattered eight hits with nine strikeouts over eight-plus innings.
“We had a game plan coming in,” Snarskis said. “I just had to pound it inside and keep trying to throw fastballs. If they were touching the fastballs, I threw off-speed pitches and then mixed my pitches back and forth.”
In the Friars’ 11-0 win against Niles West in the regional semifinal, Forde tossed a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts.
With the score tied at 1-1 in top of the ninth against New Trier, the Friars’ Jay Militello singled to left with two outs and then advanced to third base on Jack Hendricks’ double. Forde reached base on an error by the Trevians’ second baseman which scored Militello for the winning run.
“I didn’t really know I was going to come in the game at that point,” Militello said about his pinch-hitting role. “When I got the chance to come in that last inning, I just knew I had to get on and was glad that I scored the winning run.”
New Trier threatened in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second and nobody out against Snarskis; however, Forde came out of the bullpen and struck out three straight hitters to close out the game.
“I felt really good [Thursday] against Niles West,” Forde said. “Obviously the adrenaline kicked in again [against New Trier]. I was just trying to do what I did in the last game I pitched.”
In addition to his stellar pitching during the regional, Forde offered timely hitting with an RBI single in the fifth off tough New Trier left-hander Ben Brecht that scored Fenwick center fielder Ryan Pierson to tie the game at 1-1.
Brecht pitched seven innings, allowing one earned run and four hits with three walks and eight strikeouts, while Jake Reynolds (2-for-3) and Matt Boscow (2-for-4, RBI) led the Trevians offensively.
“[Brecht] is a great pitcher and we knew he was going to bring his best stuff,” Forde said. “I was trying to do whatever I could to help our team win.”
New Trier reliever Ryan Haak gave up the winning run in the ninth. With no disrespect to Haak, the Friars didn’t mind the pitching change.
“[Brecht] is a big lefty,” Fenwick shortstop Michael Krecek said about the Trevians’ top pitcher. “I tip my cap to him. It’s hard to keep a good hitting team like us off the board for so long and he really kept his team in the game.”
Last season, Fenwick advanced to the Class 3A supersectionals. Although it’s still relatively early in the playoffs, the tight-knit Friars led by head coach Dave Hogan have enough talent to make another extended run. In fact, it has already been a special spring for the Friars who repeated as Chicago Catholic League White Division champs led by CCL White Player of the Year Justin Rodriguez and all-conference players in Snarskis, Forde and Krecek. Hogan, the CCL White Coach of the Year, also picked up his 750th career win at Fenwick in early May. According to IHSA records, only legendary Oak Park-River Forest coach Jack Kaiser (865) has more wins than Hogan at one school.
It’s apparent that the Friars’ success is by committee.
“Our bench mob is a huge part of it,” Rodriguez said. “We’re always there for each other. We made sure to keep each other focused from the second we get off that bus until we had that [regional championship] plaque in our hands.”
The Friars (26-7) advance to the Niles West Sectional where they will take on top sectional seed Evanston in the semifinals Wednesday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m. Oak Park and River Forest faces Loyola on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the other semifinal.
With one more win apiece, neighborhood rivals Fenwick and OPRF will square off in an intriguing matchup for the sectional title on Saturday, June 6 (10:30 a.m.) at Niles West. During the regular season, the Huskies defeated the Friars 6-5.