Brian Vance isn’t an easy out, and that’s why he’s a valuable hitter in Loyola’s lineup, head coach Nick Bridich said.
The senior catcher showed his toughness at the plate in Wednesday’s 14-3 win over De La Salle in a Catholic League game in Chicago by going 2-for-3 with three RBIs and one run scored.
“His awareness of the strike zone is so good, and he has so many quality at-bats,” Bridich said. “I trust him to do the right thing at the right time, to compete pitch to pitch.”
While the St. Joseph’s-bound Vance entered the game batting .257, his on-base percentage was .518. One of the most patient and selective hitters on the Ramblers, according to Bridich, he had 16 walks in 56 plate appearances.
“I like to see a lot of pitches,” Vance said. “It’s helpful to me and my teammates.”
Bridich said Vance, who usually bats No. 2 in the order, sticks to his game plan and doesn’t take “bad swings.”
“He’s mature and a battler,” Bridich said. “He might go 0-2 in the count, but he will eventually make it a great at-bat.”
After flying out to in his first trip to the plate, Vance got aboard in the fourth on a bunt single. He said that at-bat helped him see the ball better, ultimately leading to more production later in the game.
“I have been struggling, so it was good to see the ball that deep and get my bat on it,” he said.
In the fifth, Vance hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly to left field. The next inning, he delivered a two-run triple with two strikes to give Loyola a 9-1 lead. He said it was the first triple he’s hit since freshman year.
“I was huffing and puffing around the bases,” he joked.
Winners of four in a row, the Ramblers (14-2, 6-0) started the scoring with three runs in the fourth. They added one in the fifth, five in the sixth and five in the seventh.
Junior first baseman Jason Vrbancic went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI. Senior shortstop Ryan Lin-Piestrup finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs and one run scored. Eight players drove in runs.
On the mound, junior right-hander Will Jackson pitched four innings to earn the win. Senior left-hander Chris Toomey and junior right-hander Ben Wagner combined to throw three innings in relief.
Loyola hosts Bishop McNamara on Thursday before welcoming Brother Rice on Saturday in the Ramblers’ first game against a Blue division opponent.