Junior shortstop Landon Mensik is enjoying every moment of this for Lincoln-Way Central.
The Xavier recruit is playing on the varsity with his younger brother, Luke. Both of them are following in the footsteps of their father Todd, who starred at Sandburg, got drafted by the Oakland A’s, played eight seasons in the minor leagues and has coached at several levels.
Eventually, though, Landon wants to one-up the rest of his family.
“I want to be better than my dad,” he said. “My goal is to play in the major leagues. Growing up, my brother and I went to high-level baseball games all the time watching my dad.
“We always had that inspiration and motivation.”
The Mensik brothers both played huge roles Wednesday as the Knights stunned host St. Laurence with 10 runs in the first inning during a 16-6 nonconference victory in Burbank.
Landon went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs for Lincoln-Way Central (7-4), while Luke effectively shook off some early struggles to pitch a complete game.
Lincoln-Way Central sent 13 hitters to the plate in the first inning after Landon Mensik sparked the surge with a leadoff double.
“I knew that double was going to be the start to a good game,” Mensik said. “Our offense always puts up big runs, and I knew we were going to score a lot of runs and give Luke some support.”
Luke, a sophomore, sure appreciated the help but confirmed the long wait during the top of the first threw him off for the bottom half of the inning, when he gave up four runs.
He was able to settle in, however, and somehow pitch the complete game.
“He came right back out there,” Landon said of Luke. “He trusted his offense, trusted his defense behind him. He kept throwing strikes, and the results worked out perfectly.”
Luke is happy to be playing with his older brother again. When Luke doesn’t pitch, he’s typically stationed at second base, right next to Landon.
“We played with each other our whole lives, and then when I was 12, we switched,” Luke said. “I went down to my age level and he stayed up at his. Last year, we got a chance to play on the same team again here, but I got hurt.
“So this year, to be playing together, turning double plays up the middle together, it’s really nice as brothers to get to do that.”
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Lincoln-Way Central coach Mitch Nowicki loves seeing it happen.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch them work together,” Nowicki said of the Mensik brothers. “They both understand the game at a high level. The way they talk the game, the way they teach it to their teammates a little bit, is a lot of fun.
“They bicker like brothers, but they pick each other up all the time.”
In the wild first inning, Meyer drove in Landon Mensik with a double, then came up a second time in the inning and blasted a three-run homer.
“I’ve not had an inning like that,” Meyer said. “That’s a first for me, for sure. We all saw the ball well. It was a big group effort all the way.
“I think we struggled a lot last year with winning big games. We were in big games and we were close, but we weren’t winning them. This year, we can win those games.”
Steve Millar is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.