Prep Baseball Report

Joliet Catholic cruises past No. 9 Providence in Bajenski Memorial Tournament

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

JOLIET – In a first-round matchup in the second-annual Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament, Joliet Catholic Academy romped past No. 9 Providence 11-2 to advance to the semifinals, to be played on May 17.

The 12-team tournament consists of four three-team pools. Joliet Catholic (9-5) and Providence (8-4), along with Lemont, make up Pool C. On April 4, JCA defeated Lemont 3-2. With the victory over Providence, the Hilltoppers wrapped up Pool C with a 2-0 record.

The champions of Pool A (No.11 Mount Carmel 1-0; Peoria Notre Dame, Marian Catholic 0-1), Pool B (No. 1 Lincoln-Way North, No.7 St. Laurence, Brother Rice), and Pool D (No. 3 St. Rita (1-0), Oak Park (1-0), New Trier (0-2), will join JCA at Standard Bank Stadium in the Final 4 on May 17.

With Tournament Director Mark Bajenski, Stevie’s father, in attendance, the Hilltoppers wasted little time against the Celtics. Having taken a 1-0 lead on one of seven Celtic miscues in the game, junior Aaron Marley ripped a two-run single off of Providence’s Notre Dame-recruit right-hander Jake Godfrey (0-2). Markley entered the game with only one official at-bat for the 2013 season, a single. “I went up to the plate looking for a fastball and I was hoping to get a good swing on it,” said Markley.

The Hilltoppers added a pair of runs in the third and then knocked out Godfrey and the Celtics with four-run fourth inning. Godfrey, the No. 3-ranked prospect in Illinois’ 2014 class, allowed three hits, six runs – three earned – in 3.1 innings. He walked six and struck out one.

The highlight of the Hilltopper fourth was a booming bases-loaded clearing double from senior 3B Jon Trotto.

“It felt really good to come up with the big three-run double,” said Trotto. “I kept my head on the ball and got a really good swing.”

Meanwhile on the mound, Hilltopper senior right-hander Cal Placher (3-2) was mowing down the Celtic hitters. Placher would throw five solid innings to pick up his third win of the year. Placher allowed one run and scattered six hits with a pair of strikeouts.

“I’m not a strikeout pitcher and I really depend on my defense,” said Placher. “My defense is the best defense in the state and I feel very comfortable with them behind me. I stayed composed and pitched really well under pressure.” 

Western Illinois-bound shortstop Chris Tschida concluded the JCA scoring with a two-run single in the top of the seventh. The future Leatherneck was on base four times, having doubled and two bases on balls.

“Being in the slump that I had been in, my thought process was to hit the ball up the middle,” said Tschida, who earned PBR second-team All-State honors as a junior. “I was really proud of myself when I hit the ball up the middle on the two-run single in the seventh. This was my first win over Providence in any sport in my career at JCA. It is just huge.”

 “Do it Steve’s Way” is the slogan for the annual tournament that honors the memory of Steven M. Bajenski (1992-2009). Stevie passed away on August 28, 2009 due to complications from heart surgery. Having heart problems his whole life, Stevie did it his way to become a model student and varsity baseball member at Mount Carmel High School.

“It’s an absolute honor to be playing in this prestigious tournament,” said JCA head coach Jared Voss. “It’s important to win this tournament, but we must never forget the real reason for this tournament is to honor the memory of Steven.

“Aaron came up with a huge hit for us in the first inning. I was so happy for him. Cal did a great job for us on the mound and our defense was superb tonight.”

Related News

You Show We Tell Event Slide