Joliet Catholic claims IHSBCA summer state title with perfect record



By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

LISLE - History was made Thursday night at Benedictine University. Joliet Catholic Academy (19-0) became the first Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association /Phil Lawler Summer State champion to finish its state championship season unblemished in the 39-year history of the tournament.

The Hilltoppers, behind a four-hitter from Jack Kaiser Memorial Most Valuable Player Nick Dalesandro, defeated their East Suburban Catholic Conference rivals from Nazareth Academy 3-1, to claim their second IHSBCA summer state championship. In 1983, Joliet Catholic won the then IHSBCA-sponsored state championship.

The game turned out to be everything the crowd in Lisle expected. Nazareth (24-12), having been swept in the spring by the Hilltoppers, wanted nothing more than to spoil JCA’s march into history.

Nazareth senior lefty Don Kelly matched the Purdue-bound Dalesandro pitch-for-pitch through the first four innings with neither team being able to score a run.

With one out In the top of the fifth, JCA‘s All-Tournament shortstop Mitch Boe ripped a single. After Kelly picked up his sixth strikeout, Dalesandro went to second and Boe to third on a two-base miscue by the Roadrunner shortstop. Up to the plate stepped junior All-Tournament Drake Fellows. On Wednesday, the Vanderbilt-recruit came through with a walk-off single that led the Hilltoppers past Prospect 3-2 in the semifinals and into Thursday’s state championship game. Once again, the future Commodore struck, this time with a clutch two-out, two-run single, scoring Boe and Dalesandro, with the first two runs of the ballgame.

“It is simply awesome to be state champions,” said Fellows. “We all came out ready to play and had each other’s backs. Nick pitched a great game for us. I’m a team player and really wanted to get those runs home in the fifth. I wanted to help Nick out. I just stayed back and picked up a couple of RBI. I can’t wait for next spring. It will be exciting.”

Meanwhile, Dalesandro (3-0) was simply lights-out for JCA. Between the first and fifth innings, the future Boilermaker right-hander retired 13 consecutive batters. The streak was broken by a Hilltopper error and then Dalesandro retired four more in a row, taking a one-hit shutout into the bottom of the seventh.

In the top of the seventh, Jack Howard gave Dalesandro and the Hilltoppers an insurance run they would need, with another clutch two-out RBI single for a 3-0 JCA lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, the never-say-die Roadrunners immediately went to work on Dalesandro. Junior Brandon Bossard crushed a single to right. Trying to stretch his single into a double, Bossard ran into the arm of Hilltopper senior right-fielder Alex Ragusa. Ragusa, who had thrown two shutout innings of relief in Wednesday’s semifinal win over Prospect, fired a strike to Boe, who put the tag on Bossard for the first out of the inning.  All-Tournament catcher Shane Gipson followed with a double. Dalesandro drilled All-Tournament Kyle Kane in the ribs to bring up the tying run to the plate. Carson Bartels drove in the only Roadrunner run in on a fielder’s choice. With the large Hilltopper contingent on its feet screaming, Dalesandro fired a 92-mph fastball past the last Roadrunner hope for his seventh strikeout and into the IHSBCA history books.

“I went out there and pitched to my defense,” said Dalesandro, who also earned the victory in the 2013 state championship game as a sophomore. “Drake just steps up in big situations and always comes through for us. Wow! That is really awesome to be the first undefeated state champion in this tournament’s history. That is a credit to all of the guys on this team. I wasn’t even around until last week. They really deserve the credit.”  

In four tournament games, Hilltopper pitchers gave only three runs.  

“That’s really cool to have won this state championship with an unblemished record,” said JCA head coach Jared Voss. “I read  today that what we were hoping to accomplish was unprecedented. I believe that is a real testament to all of the people in our program. Drake once again came up with the big hit for us. One big hit and our great pitching has been the key to our last two victories. That was Nick’s third state championship game in his career. Hopefully he has one more state championship game left, next spring.”         

PHIL LAWLER SUMMER CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

Pitchers

Joliet Catholic Academy Drake Fellows

Joliet Catholic Academy Danny Ersham

Prospect Tyler Plako

Prospect Pasquelli Atteo

Position Players

1B Prospect Lucas Karz

2B Prairie Ridge Connor Schneider

SS Joliet Catholic Academy Mitch Boe

3B Nazareth Academy Chris Campagna

C Nazareth Academy Shane Gipson

OF Prospect Trey Compton

OF Kyle Kane Nazareth

DH Prairie Ridge Nick Schmidt

U Prairie Ridge Ben Cilano

2014 JACK KAISER MEMORIAL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Joliet Catholic Academy Nick Dalesandro

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