Joliet Catholic Caps 26-Win Season With 2A State Title


By: Diego Solares
Area Scout, Illinois & Missouri

2A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

Saturday’s finale pitted Joliet Catholic and Richmond-Burton against each other for a shot at the 2A state championship trophy. It was the Hilltoppers who came out on top, winning their 26th game of the spring 12-3 to capture high school baseball’s most coveted honor. 

Richmond-Burton jumped out to an early lead in the first inning on a two-run opposite field single from OF Ethan Schoeps (2023). Joliet Catholic manufactured a run in their half of the first inning, however, when 1B Jackson Cullen (2022; Loras) tripled and later came around to score on a sacrifice fly by OF Luka Radicevich (2022; Chipola JC). 

The Rockets matched Joliet Catholic in the top of the second, as C Hayden Christiansen (2022; Xavier) poked a slider the other way for an RBI. Things held at bay until the bottom half of the third, when Radicevich brought his second run home of the game on a sacrifice fly to right field. 

Joliet Catholic blew things open in the two innings that followed. They put up five runs in the fourth, doing all of that damage with two outs. OF Daniel O’Brien (2022) and INF Aidan Voss (2022; Iowa Western CC football) each drove in runs on RBI singles, and they both scored on a three-run blast to left field by Cullen

They kept their red-hot offense rolling in the fifth. 1B Michael Ascencio (2022; Kaskaskia JC) and C Ryan Louthan (2022; John A. Logan JC) reached base to start the inning, both coming across to score on a barreled up triple into the left-center gap by 3B Brennan Luz (2022; Concordia-Wisconsin). 2B Tommy Kemp (2023) plated Luz with an RBI double down the left field line, and he came around to score on a single by O’Brien moments afterwards. 

Richmond-Burton threatened in the top half of the sixth inning, but RHP Jake Spotofora (2022; College of Dupage) extinguished the Rockets’ rally. Spotofora entered the game with the bases-loaded and one out, retiring the first batter he faced via strikeout and inducing an inning-ending flyout to foul territory. 

Joliet Catholic scored a run in the sixth on an RBI double by Asencio, capping off a 12-run outburst by the Hilltoppers’ offense. They pounded out 13 hits in total, defeating Richmond-Burton 12-3 for the 2A state title. This is Joliet Catholic's fourth state championship, and the fourth in program history.

NOTABLE PERFORMERS:

+ Daniel O’Brien (Joliet Catholic): 2-for-3, 2 RBI 2 RS
+ Aidan Voss (Joliet Catholic): 2-for-4, RBI, RS
+ Jackson Cullen (Joliet Catholic): 2-for-3, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 RS
+ Luka Radicevich (Joliet Catholic): 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI
+ Michael Ascencio (Joliet Catholic): 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, RS
+ Brennan Luz (Joliet Catholic): 2-for-3, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 RS
+ Tommy Kemp (Joliet Catholic): 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, 2 RS
+ Dominic Coda (Joliet Catholic): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 K
+ Hayden Christiansen (Richmond-Burton): 2-for-4, RBI, RS
+ Ethan Schoeps (Richmond-Burton): 1-for-2, 2B, RBI

2A THIRD PLACE GAME

In the 2A third-place game, Columbia sent their ace to the mound in junior RHP Dominic Voegele. Voegele was as advertised, striking out 13 in 6.2 innings pitched while picking up the win over Maroa-Forsyth by a score of 4-1. Voegele ran his fastball up to 93 mph, sitting comfortably at 88-91 while mixing in two advanced breaking balls throughout. 

Columbia jumped out on top with two in the first inning. Leadoff man Kyle McConachie walked and later scored on Voegele RBI single back up the middle. Voegele would come around to score on Lucas Riebeling’s fielder's choice later in the inning.

Maroa-Forsyth cut the lead to 2-1 in the third inning when starting pitcher and cleanup man Jaxson Grubbs deposited a 90 mph fastball over the left-field wall for a solo home run. 

Columbia put the game away for good in the top of the sixth inning thanks to a two-run single by Jack Steckler. 

Columbia finished the season with a 27-8-1 record while Maroa-Forsyth picked up the fourth-place trophy with a record of 32-3 on the season.

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

+ Jack Steckler (Columbia): 2-for-4, R
+ Drake Wittenbrink (Columbia): 1-for-3
+ Dominic Voegele (Columbia): 1-for-3, R; W, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 13 K
+ Jaxson Grubbs (Maroa-Forsyth): 2-for-3, HR, RBI, R; 6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6K
+ Jacob Blunck (Maroa-Forsyth): 1-for-2, BB

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