Joliet Catholic couches No. 5 St. Rita, advances to championship game



By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

CRESTWOOD – In the second annual Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament semifinal, Joliet Catholic (17-13) stunned No. 5 St. Rita, 1-0, to advance to the all-Carmelite school championship game against No. 4 Mount Carmel.

Hilltopper senior right-hander Sam Couch (3-1) fired a five-hit shutout at the Mustangs. Couch had six strikeouts and did not walk a batter in his masterpiece at Standard Bank Stadium.

“I just went out there with hopes of going the distance. I wanted to throw strikes,” said Couch. “My slider was my best my best pitch and Chris’ hit was huge. We’ve really stuggled this season but now is a great time for us to play our best baseball of the season.”

Couch matched up with St. Rita (27-7) ace lefty Mike Costanzo in a classic pitchers’ duel.

Both pitchers put up five goose-eggs each on the Standard Bank Stadium scoreboard. In the

Hilltopper sixth, red-hot sophomore Keegan Tyrell led off the inning with a double. Hilltopper leadoffman Mitchell Boe coaxed a walk from Costanzo. Mustang sophomore third baseman Tyler Halas made a super play on a bunt and got the lead runner at third for the first out of the inning.

Up to the plate stepped the Hillltoppers’ 2012 PBR All-State shortstop Chris Tschida. Tschida came through with a clutch RBI single, scoring Boe with the eventual game-winning run.

“It’s always great to get a win against a quality program like St. Rita,” said Tschida. “Sam is just an awesome pitcher. It’s great to be playing behind him. I went up there in the sixth looking to move the runners along and I fortunately drove home the game-winning run. I had a good night at the plate tonight and I give all the credit to our dugout. They were really cheering us on. A classic Mount Carmel-Joliet Catholic baseball game tomorrow night for the championship. I can’t wait.”

Couch shut down the Mustangs in the bottom of the sixth. Costanzo (8-3) finished off his outstanding complete-game performance striking out the final two Hilltopper hitters in the top of the seventh. Costanzo stuck out six and walked two.

In the bottom of the seventh, Halas led off the inning with a single to centerfield. Junior Chris Delgadillo ran for Halas at first. Delgadillo moved up to second on a two-strike sac-bunt from pinch-hitter Shane Peisker. Troy Payton grounded out for the second out of the inning. This was the beginning off the crazy conclusion to this game.

On the out, Delgadillo broke for third. Hilltopper first baseman Ryan Peter fired a strike to junior third baseman Jon Trotto, who appeared to have Delgadillo dead for the third out and the ballgame for JCA. Not so fast. Delgadillo slid away from the tag from Trotto at third and headed for home. Trotto fired a strike to Holy-Cross-bound catcher Alex Voitik, who put the tag on Delgadillo to end this thriller.

“It’s an absolute honor for us to advance to the championship game in Stevie’s Tournament,”
said JCA head coach Jared Voss. “Sam was impressive for us on the mound changing speeds and pitching an absolute great game for us. Chris came through like he has all year for us.”

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