Defending champ Lyons, St. Rita advance to IHSBCA title game

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

LISLE - A pair of talented left-handed pitchers led their respective schools to the 2013 IHSBCA/Phil Lawler Summer State Tournament Classic championship game on Wednesday night. Lyons Township junior lefty Quinton Hughes fired a one-hit shutout at St. Charles East leading the Lions to a thrilling 1-0 victory and back into their second consecutive Phil Lawler Classic final.

St. Rita’s Austin Peay University-bound senior lefty Mike Constanzo struck 13 Libertyville Wildcats to lead the Mustangs past the Wildcats, 4-1. Costanzo allowed four singles and one unearned in his complete-game masterpiece.

Lyons Township 1, St. Charles East 0  
Hughes and St. Charles East senior right-hander Kyle Cook put on quite a show in the first semifinal matchup. Both pitchers fired no-hit baseball through the first three innings. In fact, Hughes retired the first 13 hitters he faced before giving up the only hit he would allow to Saint shortstop Jake Milos, with one out in the fifth.

The Lions would score their only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth. Max Larsen led off the inning with a single. A wild pitch moved Larsen to second. Sam Heilenbach followed with another single, Larsen stopping at third.  Senior Sam Cybulski hit a little roller in front of the plate. Cook fielded, flipped the ball to senior catcher Adam Rojas, but Larsen slid away from the tag for the only run of this thriller.

Hughes walked Saint senior Ben Smith with one out in the seventh, the junior lefty’s only free pass of the game before retiring the last two Saint hitters to send the Lions into the Lawler Final.

“I really pitched a great ball game tonight but I couldn’t have done it without my great team defense,” said Hughes. “I was very much aware of the no-hitter. Sam made a great attempt to save it for me on Milos’ hit. Everything was working for me tonight. I was able to keep them off balance with my breaking ball. I am really excited about going to the championship. I don’t care who we play as long as we play well.”

Hughes, who picked up the save in the Lions 9-5 win over Plainfield East on Monday, adds a one-hit semifinal shutout to his impressive resume.

“Two base-runners, one-hit shutout in the semifinals,” said head coach George Ushela. “Quinton is one cool customer and pitched an outstanding game for us tonight. What can you say about Max Larsen from his hit to start the inning and his great slide to score the winning run. Cook pitched a great game for St. Charles. It was just great baseball game tonight.”

The two powerhouse programs will clash at 7 on Thursday night at Benedictine. Lyons Township will be trying to be the first school since Andrew (1991-1992) to win consecutive IHSBCA/Phil Lawler Classic State Championships.

St. Rita 4, Libertyville 1
St. Rita’s ultra-talented LHP Mike Costanzo allowed an unearned run in the first inning against Libertyville in the second semifinal. Libertyville (18-5) would not score again against the Austin Peay-bound lefty. Costanzo allowed just four singles and punched-out 13 Wildcat batsmen.

St. Rita (16-5) answered the Wildcats score in the first with a pair of runs in the top of the third. Junior Tyler Halas plated the first Mustang run on a sac-fly. Senior Aaron Fuller gave the Mustang the lead they would not relinquish when he walked with the bases loaded.

St. Rita added single runs in the third on an RBI from senior C Nate Soria and concluded the scoring in the sixth when Soria drove home his second run of the game and sixth of the tournament on a sac-fly.

Meanwhile Constanzo, once given the lead, became almost unhittable. Costanzo struck out the side in the second and fanned at least two Wildcats in the first, third, fourth and sixth and seventh, including the final two Wildcats to end the ball game.

“I pitched very well tonight but this was a complete team victory,” said Costanzo. "Phenomenal defense from my teammates. We suffered a tough loss in the spring and this is rewarding to be playing for the state championship tomorrow night. We just have to come out tomorrow night and duplicate what we accomplished today.”

Libertyville bows out at 18-5 after a tremendous spring/summer run for head coach Jim Schurr and his Wildcats.

“It was a great performance by Mike tonight,” said St. Rita head coach Mike Zunica. “One finds themselves just getting caught up in watching Mike pitch. He is truly a special performer. We picked up a run here and there and with Mike on the mound, we got enough. What a great matchup tomorrow. Obviously LT is a great program, but somebody’s got to win it. Why not us?”

Check out the Lawler Classic Final at for the 6:55 pregame show with the PBR’s Drake Skleba, and then at 7 when Drake and the CUBE’s Donnie Kolakowski will have all of the action on Thursday night.


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