Dominant Cole Kmet leads St. Viator past Marmion

St. Viator's Cole Kmet pitches the the Lions to a IHSA semifinal victory over Marmion. Allen Cunningham / for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Lefty Cole Kmet is St. Viator’s dominant weapon. The 6-5 senior is a tremendous athlete. He’s of the best tight ends in the nation and will play football and baseball next year at Notre Dame.

Friday at Silver Cross Field in Joliet, Kmet showed why it’s possible he gets drafted in next week’s Major League Baseball draft. He pitched and slugged the Lions to an 11-1 victory against Marmion in the Class 3A state semifinals.

Kmet pitched the complete game, going six innings and allowing six hits and one walk while striking out nine. He was 3-for-5 at the plate with one RBI.

St. Viator coach Mike Manno’s toughest decision on Friday was whether or not to start Kmet or save him for the title game.

“We made the right decision,” Manno said. “That is a really good hitting team that we faced today. They had six hits off of Cole. That is a tough team that we just beat. The score is not indicative of how good that team is.”

Marmion (21-17) had six baserunners in the first three innings, but were unable to capitalize.

“I knew they were a good hitting team,” Kmet said. “Each guy was tough to get out. I knew it was going to be a battle all day. You just really have to bunker down and take one pitch at a time and throw that pitch in the correct spot and I was able to get out of it.”

Second baseman Hunter Johnson was 3-for-4 with two runs and one RBI for St. Viator (24-15). Brett DeSelm had two hits and three RBI and catcher Mike Witch was 2-for-4.

The Lions are hitting over .430 in the playoffs.

“They are doing a great job of passing the baton,” Manno said. “Each guy is stepping up in their own little way. It’s from our senior leadership.”

St. Viator advanced to the state finals last season, but lost both games and finished in fourth place.

“I think our seniors are a lot calmer this year,” Kmet said. “The juniors and sophomores and freshmen are really feeding off that. Last year we came in just kind of happy to be here, kinda just taking it all in. This year we came in on a mission to win this thing. We took care of the first one now.”

St. Viator will play East Suburban Catholic rival Marian Catholic in the Class 3A state title game on Saturday.

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