Prep Baseball Report

3A State Finals Preview

By Matt Huck
Area Scout

The Class 3A Final Four weekend has arrived. On Friday at Sliver Cross Field in Joliet at 9:00 AM am with the second semifinal to follow. The games have been moved up with an impending heat advisory for the southwest suburbs. The championship game will be played on Saturday at 11:00 am.

In the first game Friday Lemont will face off with St. Viator, followed by Limestone vs. Springfield.

Class 3A Semifinal one- Friday 9:00 AM

Lemont (28-9) vs. St. Viator (25-15) 

Lemont – Lemont has taken care of business in the playoffs outscoring opponents 46-8 in their five games leading up to Friday. The Indians are currently ranked No. 22 in the PBR Power 25 Rankings. Senior Garrett Acton and Junior Ryan Sublette headline the pitching staff for the Indians that has been dominant this spring. Sublette currently is 8-1 with a 2.19 ERA on the season, while striking out 63 hitters in 54.1 innings pitched.

Acton, a St. Louis commit, has been dominant on both the mound and at the plate this season. He is leading in all Triple Crown categories hitting .435 with 16 doubles, four, home runs, and 41 RBIs. With reports of his fastball reaching as high as 94 mph this spring he has worked 40.1 innings, allowing just 19 hits, and six earned runs. He currently has a 1.04 ERA while racking up 64 strikeouts.

Leading the offense is Casey O’Brien, Nick Wisz, and Angel Salinas. O’Brien is hitting .412 with four homers and 27 RBIs. Wisz is hitting .391 in 92 at bats this year with three triples, two homers, and 24 RBIs. Salinas is hitting .347 with 10 doubles and 28 RBIs. Leadoff man Dominic Connolly is hitting .364 with a team high 43 runs scored.

The Indians are back in Joliet for the second time in three years. Their last appearance in 2014 saw the Indians walk off Sacred Heart-Griffin to win the Class 3A state title.

Former MLB outfielder, and current Kent State head coach Jeff Duncan attended Lemont.

St. Viator – The Lions are making their first trip to the finals since 1965. St. Viator comes down to 3A after being in 4A last season. After struggling in the East Suburban Catholic play this spring going 8-10 in conference, the Lions come to Joliet riding a nine game winning streak.

The Lions also have a little extra motivation as senior first baseman Dan Sullivan’s season was abruptly ended when he contracted a bacteria infection and was hospitalized. Sullivan was the teams leading hitter hitting .400 with 13 home runs, 14 doubles, and 35 RBIs.

6-foot-4, 220-pound LHP Cole Kmet has been the key to the Lions success this year, both on the mound and at the plate. Though he is committed to play tight end at Notre Dame, Kmet impresses on the baseball field as well. He is the team’s workhorse on the mound going 10-1 this year, while striking out 92 hitters in 61.2 innings pitched. He is a tough matchup on the mound for hitters as he comes at you with a crossfire delivery and a fastball that sits 85-87 mph, complimented by a hard sweeping curveball at 74-75 mph. Kmet also has power at the plate hitting .336 on the year with 11 home runs, 10 doubles, and 38 RBIs.

Senior leadoff man Michael Ragauskis is hitting .339 with 31 runs scored, and is a burner on the bases. Senior LHP Kevin Napolean is 10-3 with a 2.42 ERA.

Look for Kmet to matchup with one of the big arms from Lemont in the opening game.

Current assistant coach Brett Kay played at Illinois State and was a 20th round pick of the San Francisco Giants, attended St. Viator.

Class 3A Semifinal two- Friday 10:30 AM

Limestone (30-7) vs. Springfield (33-5) 

Limestone – Limestone has ran off an impressive 30-7 record this season and are currently riding a nine game win streak coming into Joliet. This will be the Rockets first trip to the state finals since taking back-to-back trips in 2005-2006. They will be in search of their first title.

The teams staff is its calling card as they have had only four different arms take the mound this season. Bryce Meyer comes in with a perfect record at 11-0 with a 1.10 ERA while racking up 95 strikeouts in 76.1 innings pitched. Tanner Rhoades is currently 10-1 with a 1.44 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 77.2 innings.

Sam Koeppel and James Welton are the teams leading hitter. Koeppel is hitting .351 with two home runs and 24 RBIs. Welton is hitting .345 with two home runs, eight doubles, and 39 runs scored.

Former MLB first baseman Jim Thome, who played 22 seasons and hit 612 home runs is an alumni of Limestone.

Springfield – The Senators, currently ranked No. 20 in the PBR Power 25, have a balanced team as they have seven hitters hitting over .300 and the highest ERA on the team is 2.17. Their first game will be an interesting matchup as both teams played on May 20th with Limestone handing the Senators a 7-5 loss, which also happens to be the last time they lost a game.

With a balanced lineup up and down the order, the Senators have put up impressive numbers at the plate. Damian Pierce leads in all Triple Crown categories hitting .438 with six home runs and 46 RBIs, he also leads the team with 19 doubles and 43 runs scored. Austin Alderman is hitting .419 with 11 doubles and 36 RBIs on the year. Leadoff hitter Luke Ketchum is hitting .363 with 4 home runs and 42 runs scored.

Michael Lavin headlines the staff with a perfect 9-0 record and a 1.15 ERA. Ethan Klay currently has a 7-1 record with a .73 ERA and has punched out 68 hitters in 47.2 innings pitched. 

Ducky Schofield played 19 seasons in the MLB from 1953-1971 and attended Springfield.

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