3A State Championship: Montini captures first ever state title in win over St. Laurence


Christian Barczi
Illinois Staff

Joliet , IL - Behind the big game of Rocco Catalano, Montini finally won the big one. After falling short year-after-year in the IHSA state tournament, the Broncos finally put it all together in a 6-3 victory over the Vikings of St. Laurence to win the 3A state title on Saturday, June 8.

As was the case all season long, St. Laurence got the bats rolling early. After a three-up, three-down top of the first for Montini, the Vikings jumped on Broncos pitcher Michael Koszewski immediately -- starting their half of the inning with three straight singles. Following the three hits, Vytas Valincius walked with the bases loaded to make it 1-0. Facing a dangerous early game jam, Koszewski would surrender only one more run on a double-play and then a ground out to third, ending the threat before any more damage could be done. From there, Koszewski settled down for good -- going the distance in a complete game effort and allowing only one more hit the rest of the way.

Facing a strong pitching staff and a potent offense, Montini knew they had to cut into the St. Laurence lead before it was too late. The Broncos found their opening when Estevan Moreno and Benjamin Lah both reached on errors to start the third inning. Antoine Harris made the Vikings pay for their defensive mishaps when he ripped a double to drive in Moreno. The Broncos then opted to get crafty; Nate Kremkow executed a suicide-squeeze to perfection, driving in Harris to tie the game up at two. Riding their momentum, Montini tacked on another run in the top-of-the-fourth on an RBI base-hit from Catalano.

It didn’t take long for St. Laurence to answer back. Luke Montgomery was the spark the Vikings needed to get back into the game, reaching base with one-out in the bottom of the fifth. Montgomery took matters into his own hands, singling to reach base, stealing to get to second, and then getting balked over to third. Jake Vera would get the job done, grounding out to first and driving Montgomery in to tie the game up at 3.

It was going to take some late-game heroics for either team to win, and Catalano wasn’t comfortable giving St. Laurence a chance to win it late in the game. With 1-out and men on first and third in the top of the sixth, Catalano drove in two more runs on a clutch double down the left field line. Moreno would follow Catalano with a single, driving him in and giving the Broncos much needed insurance.

Backed by a three-run lead, Koszewski pounded the zone and retired the last six Vikings batters in order en route to Montini’s first ever state title win. The Broncos end their season on a nine game winning streak and finish up with a record of 23-11. The Vikings failed to capture their first ever state title, and finished the year with a 34-6 record.

Top Performers

+ Rocco Catalano (Montini): 2-for-3, 3 RBI, R
+ Michael Koszewski (Montini): 7 IP, 3 ER, 4H, 2 K
+ Luke Montgomery (St. Laurence): 2-for-3, 2 R

3A 3rd Place Game

Waterloo 9, Dixon 2 | Final

+ This marks the second time in the last nine years that Waterloo has placed third at state.
+ Having won six of their last seven, Waterloo finishes with a record of 23-13. Dixon finishes the season  making their first ever state appearance and end with a 26-6 record.  


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