Hupe's One-Hitter Leads Mount Carmel Past St. Rita

By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

CRESTWOOD, IL – No. 2 Mount Carmel sophomore right-handed pitcher Cameron Hupe was looking to get even after dropping a 1-0 decision against No. 3 St. Rita last Wednesday, and he didn’t disappoint, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning with two outs. Hupe settled for a one-hitter in a 3-1 victory over the Mustangs at Standard Bank Stadium in the semi finals of the Steven Bajenski Memorial Tournament.

“I went out there wanting revenge for last week,” Hupe said. “I knew coming into the seventh with their 5-7 hitters I had to be just as good as I was in the first, because their lineup is tough 1-through-9. I worked a lot in the pen getting all three pitches over for strikes and every time out I have the best defense in the state that has my back.”

The Caravan (29-4) got on the board first in the top of the second started off when freshman phenom Alek Thomas reached on a catcher’s interference. Junior shortstop Jeremy Houston sacrificed Thomas to second, and Scott Kapers' RBI-single up the middle past the second baseman plated Thomas for the first run of the game off St. Rita starter Tyler Halas (6-1).

St. Rita (29-5) tied it up in the fourth as Hupe walked the first two hitters of the inning, Mateo Zunica and Shane Peisker. A strikeout on a curveball down in the zone bounced away from senior catcher Kapers, moving runners to second and third with one out. Senior shortstop Marty Bechina lifted a sacrifice fly deep to right field scoring Zunica to tie the game at one. Hupe ended the rally with a strikeout, one of his seven on the day.

The game was not without its usual Catholic League controversy, as the Caravan took the lead in the sixth on a controversial call. Senior second baseman Ako Thomas led off the inning against Halas with a line drive single past third baseman Esteban Martinez. A sacrifice bunt by Josh Stowers moved Thomas to second, setting the stage for senior first baseman Malik Carpenter.

Carpenter hit a rocket down the third base line past a diving Martinez for a double, scoring Thomas and chasing Halas from the game. The third baseline umpire called the ball fair, saying it passed over the base, as it appeared Martinez had dove into foul territory. After a bit of argument and an umpire consultation, the play was withheld, giving the Caravan a 2-1 lead.

Alek Thomas moved Carpenter to third on his ground ball single into the six-hole off new Mustang pitcher, senior left-hander Matt Ryan. Junior shortstop Jeremy Houston bounced another ball down the third base line, which looked to be in foul territory as Martinez came forward in front of the bag and fielded the baseball to his backhand throwing out Houston. In the process Carpenter scored from third, giving the Caravan a 3-1 lead, all the budding ace Hupe would need.

Hupe was three outs from a no-hitter entering the seventh, facing St. Rita’s 5-through-7 hitters. Marty Bechina grounded out to the slick fielding Houston at short for the first out of the inning. St. Rita sophomore catcher Cal Greenfield drove a ball deep down the line in left field, but Alek Thomas had a beat on it from the get-go, making what could have been a potential double into an easy catch thanks to his good jump. Mustang senior second baseman Anthony Faron broke up the no-no with a bouncing single up the middle, just past a diving Ako Thomas. Esteban Martinez followed with a sinking line drive shot to center field, where Josh Stowers made a terrific sliding catch to cap off the victory.

Mount Carmel coach Brian Hurry said, “Cam was outstanding keeping his composure in a really tense atmosphere. It was playoff-like and he was locked in. The Bajenski is great this time of year because you get the best competition against great teams. I’m proud of our guys the way they focused and locked in. We put down bunts and got timely hitting. “

Nicholas Wheeler added a single for the Caravan. For St. Rita, senior left-handed pitcher Connor McAlilly impressed in a scoreless inning for relief striking out two with a mid 80's fastball and a hard, upper 70's slider.

With a jam packed crowed announce at over 1,000 in Crestwood the semi final game had the feeling of a playoff game. Not only that, it drew other high school programs to catch the contest on Friday night with Homewood-Flossmoor, Providence, St. Laurence, Joliet Catholic, and others taking in the ball game.

Tournament director Mark Bajenski said, “The goal of this is great baseball for a great cause. We want to put on a great tournament and ultimately educate these kids about what is right and how to play the game the right way; to do it Stevie’s Way.”

Mount Carmel will take on No. 25 St. Laurence in the championship game tonight at 7 pm at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood. St. Rita takes on No. 19 Providence at 4 pm in the third place game. Games will run all day starting at 10 am.

Check the Illinois Scouting Blog for insider scouting notes from this contest.

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