In his first varsity season, Loyola junior Jake Novak is playing like a veteran, and it showed Monday in the team’s 5-3 win over Brother Rice at home.

With the Ramblers holding a two-run lead after six innings, the left-handed Novak retired the top of the lineup in order on 11 pitches. He didn’t allow a baserunner in two scoreless innings of relief.

Batting third in the order, Novak went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

“All I think to myself is stay locked in,” Novak said. “I try not to let any moment be too big.”

Before the season started, Loyola head coach Nick Bridich said Novak was a player to watch.

He’s lived up to the hype.

Novak’s hitting .275 with an on-base percentage of .431 and leads the team with 12 RBIs. In five appearances and 9 1/3 innings of relief, his ERA is 0.00 and opponents are batting .125.

More impressively, Novak is hitting .375 with seven RBIs and thrown 7 1/3 innings in six Catholic Blue games.

“He’s a very talented kid,” Bridich said. “His personality is built for baseball. He’s never too high or too low. Even though it looks like he’s asleep out there, he’s very competitive.”

After losing to Brother Rice 13-12 on a walk-off home run Saturday, the Ramblers (10-4-1, 3-3) got ahead and stayed there Monday. They built a 5-0 lead by scoring four runs with two outs in the second.

The Crusaders (14-7, 4-2) creeped back into the game with one run in the fourth and two in the fifth, but Novak shut them down to earn the save.

“We are learning how to win these close games,” Bridich said. “It’s all about how we prepare.”

Senior Trey Torain had two hits, two runs scored and one RBI. Senior right-hander Ben Wagner pitched five innings for the win.

Loyola plays at Glenbrook South on Wednesday. The Ramblers travel to Mount Carmel on Thursday and host the Caravan on Saturday.