Prep Baseball Report

Joliet Catholic pitches another shutout, wins Steven M. Bajenski Tournament over No. 4 Mount Carmel

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

CRESTWOOD – Pitching and defense wins championships. An old cliché, indeed, but for the Joliet Catholic Academy Hilltoppers, the old cliché was the perfect recipe. Three Hilltopper pitchers combined for a five-hit shutout of the 4th-ranked Caravan and went on to win the second-annual Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament Championship Game, 3-0, at Standard Bank Stadium.

In 14 innings of play against No.5 St. Rita and No. 4-ranked Mount Carmel, Hilltoppers pitchers allowed no runs and nine hits. Senior Sam Couch fired a four-hit shutout at St. Rita in Friday night’s second semifinal. The Hilltopper defense played errorless ball.

Sophomore Nick Dalesandro, senior Cal Placher (6-4) and junior Kyle Polaski shut the door on the potent Caravan attack. Dalesandro pitched the first two innings, allowing a hit. Placher was outstanding in his three scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit to pick up the win. Polaski pitched two scoreless innings but had to pitch out of a second and third with one-out situation, in the seventh. By doing so, Kyle preserved the shutout, the win and the taking back to Joliet the Stevie’s Cup, the very impressive championship team trophy.

JCA (18-13) got on the board in the first inning when Caravan starting pitcher, lefty Austin Dotson and the usually reliable Caravan defense imploded. Three miscues later, JCA had the first run of the game driven in by Western Illinois-bound SS Chris Tschida.

An RBI single to center by junior John Kalisik brought home the second run of the game for JCA in the second. After two out in the fifth, Tschida doubled and Dalesandro singled him in with a huge insurance run for the Hilltoppers.

Mount Carmel (27-8) was led by sophomore Josh Stowers and Malik Carpenter, who had a pair of hits each.

“We were kind of underdogs in this tournament but after the Lemont win we thought it would be nice to win the tournament,” said Placher. “I had a real poor performance in my last game. Tonight I was relaxed out there tonight and threw well. We beat two of the best teams in the state. Pitching is our most important element to our success.”

“Unbelievable. It’s an awesome feeling to win the tournament,” said Polaski. “I was confident in myself and with my defense with a three-run lead to go out and do the job.”

“This is the greatest achievement in my career thus far,” said Dalesandro. “To win this championship with my teammates is truly outstanding. I went out there tonight trying to everything I could to make this dream come true.”

Mount Carmel finishes second for the second year in a row in the championship game of Stevie’s Tournament. Last year the Caravan fell 10-4 to archrival St. Rita.

“This was just a tremendous honor to play in this tournament, let alone to win it,” said JCA head coach Jared Voss. “To shut out two of the top teams in the state over 14 innings and play errorless ball is truly a credit to our team.”

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